Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Is encouraging others to commit suicide a crime?


On Nov. 27, 2005, a man in Faribault, Minn., received an e-mail with a subject line that read, "Melissa goodbye to Li Dao." It was a suicide note, scribbled digitally, sent by a woman to her online pen pal who had actively encouraged her to embrace death. The only catch: Li Dao was not a real person, and, according to authorities, the virtual advice was not an act of empathy but an attempt to manipulate Melissa into taking her own life — all for what the man told the police was the "the thrill of the chase."

Li Dao was one of the several aliases used by 48-year-old William Melchert-Dinkel, who would impersonate a female nurse and advise people on suicide methods in online chat rooms. Melissa was one of the dozens of victims he encouraged to commit suicide by feigning compassion. "Having your support is going to help me muster up the strength to go through with this," Melissa wrote to him. Melchert-Dinkel (who was a registered nurse at the time) then replied, advising Melissa to stay calm while she took her own life: "Just let yourself down on the rope and let go."[....]

1 comment :

  1. whats this current fixation with this question?

    the rov in a shul i daven mincha / maariv at just discussed this, using rav gershuni's approach.

    i later told him that when the besomim rosh was reprinted about thirty years ago, they deleted one tshuva -- the one on this exact topic.

    so its an old question (though not medieval, but mid 1800's)

    (i believe its covered in a post on "seforim" blog a few years ago.)


please use either your real name or a pseudonym.