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Former Nurse Charged With Aiding Suicides Via Web 168

Posted by timothy
from the everybody-needs-a-hobby dept.
mernil writes "A former US nurse has been charged with two counts of aiding suicides on the Internet, US officials say. William Melchert-Dinkel, 47, is accused of encouraging the suicides of Mark Drybrough from Coventry, UK, in 2005 and Canada's Nadia Kajouji in 2008. Melchert-Dinkel, from Minnesota, allegedly posed as a female nurse, instructing people in suicide chatrooms how to take their lives. He reportedly admitted helping five or fewer people kill themselves. Some legal experts say it could be difficult to prosecute Melchert-Dinkel under a rarely used law because he allegedly only encouraged the victims to kill themselves, without physically helping them to take their lives."
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Former Nurse Charged With Aiding Suicides Via Web

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  • Ok, so what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 24, 2010 @08:28AM (#31966336)

    Killing yourself is, and should be, an individual's choice. Providing responsible and accurate on how to do it without causing oneself a lot of pain and suffering is a good deed, not a crime.

    • Re:Ok, so what? (Score:5, Informative)

      by gmack (197796) <gmack@NOsPAM.innerfire.net> on Saturday April 24, 2010 @08:35AM (#31966366) Homepage Journal

      Except that's not what happened, this guy pretended to be a woman, made fake suicide pacts and actually pressured people to go through with them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Except that's not what happened, this guy pretended to be a woman, made fake suicide pacts and actually pressured people to go through with them.

        So what you're saying is that this is like The Crying Game [imdb.com] but without the happy ending?

      • Re:Ok, so what? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Sponge Bath (413667) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @08:41AM (#31966394)
        Yes, this guy is pretty sick. From the summary I thought this was about assisted suicide of the terminally ill. The article makes it clear it was encouragement of depressed, but physically healthy, people to commit suicide.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Parent post makes a telling point. The more so since the the accused had been trained as a nurse, which includes training in using communications skills and presentation of self to alter a patient's mood or self-assessment. In the nursing program I attended this training came under several titles: "therapeutic use of self", "active listening skills", etc. These can be very powerful techniques especially when working with a subject who is in a suggestible state of mind-- and there is definitely a potential f

        • by citizenr (871508)

          Yes, this guy is pretty sick. From the summary I thought this was about assisted suicide of the terminally ill

          To be perfectly honest they were terminally ill - mental illness leading to death.

          • by sjames (1099)

            If you ignore the fact that depression is often treatable. This is like seeing that someone has broken their leg and suggesting euthanasia just because you think it would be cool to see someone die.

        • by iamhassi (659463)
          "The article makes it clear it was encouragement of depressed, but physically healthy, people to commit suicide."

          Beautiful too. He helped kill this 18 yr old Canadian girl [google.com]

          What kind of sick fuck would say "Hey beautiful girl, you want to die? Let me help you with that..."
          • Er, when did beauty come into it? If it had been an ugly person would he have been less of a "sick fuck"- even marginally?

            • by iamhassi (659463)
              "If it had been an ugly person would he have been less of a "sick fuck"- even marginally?"

              Of course. Out of the top reasons to off yourself (financial problems, relationship, school/job problems, etc), I'd say "ugly" is one of the better reasons, wouldn't you? Most of those other problems come and go, but "ugly" is pretty much forever. That is one reason I could understand, didn't you learn anything from The Twilight Zone? [youtube.com]
        • I hate how people in the 21st century still think mental diseases are somehow “not real” diseases. And that one would be “physically healthy” and “just depressed”!

          Guys, just because you can’t see it, it’s not not real!

          Let’s make the Data comparison: If data had short circuits in his positronic brain, causing him to act “all weird”, would you say he is defective, or physically healthy?
          Now if those short circuits were software-caused?

          The thing

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Nyder (754090)

        Except that's not what happened, this guy pretended to be a woman, made fake suicide pacts and actually pressured people to go through with them.

        People don't get "pressured" into killing themselves. they make the decision themselves.

        Those people obviously wanted to kill themselves, the fact that he may have encourage them to shouldn't even be relavent.

        Sure, the guy is most likely scum, but the truth is, those people were looking for an excuse to die, and now their family or whomever want someone to blame.

        Look, the world is full of all sorts of peeps. Some are nice, some are mean, some are mentally ill, some are physically ill. It's just how it i

        • by jesset77 (759149)

          Media loves sensationalist headlines like this. "ZOMFG, The Interwebs killed 5 more people today. It's horrible!"

          Srsly folks, just don't f$%^ing feed the trolls. 8I

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Khashishi (775369)

      I think suicide should be legal provided that you inform the proper authorities and close up some loose ends.

      • Quite right (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Snaller (147050) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @09:19AM (#31966556) Journal

        Suicide should be a human right.

        If society tries to ban that THEY MUST help the person in every way and totally support them their entire lives - and if they are not prepared to do that they should shut up and back off and not prevent people from ending their lives if that is what they feel they must.

        • Re:Quite right (Score:5, Insightful)

          by h00manist (800926) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @09:43AM (#31966692) Journal

          Suicide should be a human right.

          From what I know, from a humanist philosophy point of view, any human being needs to have the right to full control of their body. So if someone wants to do something insane with their body, they are entitled to it. Encouraging mutilation or death however, would not be humanist. So if you decide you want to die, fine. If you want to preach people should want to die, need help to die, should be sold equipment, manuals, videos, books, have suicide parties, suicide lounges, suicide workshops, suicide encouragement boot camps, pro suicide marketing campaigns, etc, all of which is speech, well, that would be psychological violence. Thats ideals, philosophy, morality, etc however. The field of law is another matter, and how to word the law so it's not abused either way is not so easy.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by b4upoo (166390)

            Sometimes there is no difference between the simple truth and what you call psychological violence. When a person faces nothing but grim days, poverty, pain,abuse and disease recommending suicide should not be called a crime. There are some people in such rotten conditions that they really need to die. Pointing that out to them is not always a hostile act. I'm not sure that the law should ever get involved in such an issue.

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          Suicide of a person of a mainstream western culture is the ultimate act of selfishness.

          That doesn't mean that it may not be appropriate in some instances. It means that in western cultures the decision to suicide is usually made at a time when the person is seriously under estimating his value to his circle of family, friends, and acquaintances.

          Other cultures value things differently. Suicide in some eastern cultures is apparently sometimes regarded as a way of protecting the person's social circle from

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            So it's selfish to kill yourself... presumably because other people rely on your emotionally (at the very least).

            So, if someone wants to kill themselves, it's wrong because other people might get really upset over it? So if someone is sick of life, in pain, or just plain emotionally damaged, they ought to stick around for others' sakes? Doesn't that make it selfish on the part of the people that rely on them emotionally instead?

          • > Suicide of a person of a mainstream western culture is the ultimate act of selfishness.

            On whose part: the person who wants to die, or the people who, because they would feel bad if said person were no longer around, want this individual to continue his or her suffering?

        • Suicide should be a human right.

          I understand the guy my wife took off with left a note on his computer's Notepad that became very depressed and was found dead with his soda loaded up with a bunch of sleeping tablets.

          Yeah, make suicide legal...NOT

          • I understand the guy my wife took off with left a note on his computer's Notepad that became very depressed and was found dead with his soda loaded up with a bunch of sleeping tablets.

            Based on your other posts, I would guess that your wife ran off with this guy because you are a self-important jackass who thinks he knows everything and treats everyone with a different opinion as if they are stupid. People like you should kill themselves. You are useless drain on the world's carbon cycle.

            In any event you

        • by Artifakt (700173)

          It probably should be a recognised right, but you do realise that won't matter much in this case? The accused allegedly misrepresented himself in various ways, also called fraud. You have a right to buy real estate, and if you already own it, to sell it, but if somebody offers to sell you the Brooklyn bridge, the case doesn't hinge on anybody's rights being limited by a fraud prosecution. This is not a case such as Dr. Kevorkian's, where there may be a legitimate first amendment issue, but the sort of case

        • While I completely agree with you, this little piece of poetry here really made me think...
          Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip — Magicians Assistant [youtube.com] ...that in reality, it’s not always as easy as we both would like it to be.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Prepare for the onslaught of "but suicide is cowardice" posts. IMO, it takes either a person of incredible will (overlooked), or extreme depression (always assumed).

        I was never seriously depressed, even after withstanding several (literal) life-changing events that would drive most people mad and permanently change their careers/public life. Suicide was (is) one legitimate option, and yet I could never bring myself to even seriously think about it; I consider it cowardice on my part to not embrace it: brave

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          I will never kill myself willingly, and I am shamed for that fact.

          The fact that you feel shame for this says interesting and rather uncomplimentary things about the society that trained you.

    • Re:Ok, so what? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by nbauman (624611) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @11:00AM (#31967130) Homepage Journal

      An individual choice has to be a rational, informed decision.

      William Melchert-Dinkel was a nurse. He could identify and take advantage of vulnerable people, who were clinically depressed and unable to make rational, informed decisions. He tricked them into making irrational uninformed decisions.

      It's as if you had a curable cancer and he told you, "I'm a nurse. Your cancer is incurable. You're going to die painfully. You'd be better off killing yourself now."

      This is similar to the situation that doctors deal with every day in which a patient who is dying has to decide whether they want to stop treatment.

      A patient has to be capable of making a rational decision. Some drugs and medical conditions make people depressed (independent of the normal depression that comes from dealing with the situation of an illness). Regularly, people decide during an illness that they don't want to live, change their mind after they get better, and are glad they didn't die.

      Depression itself can be a clinical condition. People who are treated with drugs or talk therapy often get better, sometimes dramatically so. If a drug can make such a dramatic difference, that without the drug your individual choice is to die, and with the drug your individual choice is to live, that shows you how unreliable and irrational individual choice is.

      I would reluctantly concede that people who don't want to live simply because the burden of life is too much, and who have been treated unsuccessfully for depression, physical pain, or any other cause, have a right to kill themselves. Quadriplegics have a legal right to refuse feeding. But that's only after they've exhausted every other option, which wasn't the case here.

      We give people the right to make an individual choice to die, but not when they're obviously incapable of making a rational decision. Most of us want the government to interfere and stop us from killing ourselves when we're temporarily irrational.

  • Maddox playing as a nurse. Well played.
  • Hmm (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    If you can find a person guilty for giving advice on ending the lives of two people over an acute period of time... ... How liable should liqour, cigarette, and high carb + fat + low nutrition food producers be?

    Is the only difference that she helped them intentionally take their lives, while the enablers of unhealthy lifestyle consumables help people take their lives over the course of years?

    Either put the peddlers of these long-term killing substances behind jail, or get your hands off of my rights to do w

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by h00manist (800926)
      Seriously, if they want to reduce murder and violence, they should start where it happens most, where it's planned and practiced in greatest numbers. Governments and corporations, mostly. Everywhere and always. Pass a law saying "no torture, violence or killing, no exceptions for anyone", and presto, you get quite the revolution and shove society into dealing with the future. Lots of questioning and crisis getting there, but a real future nonetheless.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Kenoli (934612)
        No violence or else.
        • by h00manist (800926)
          Yup, that's exactly the big question. How do stop the use of force and violence without using it yourself. Basically you can't I think, at that point it's sometimes too late, your options are more limited. You need to plan and educate slowly to reduce it gradually. Violence starts at people's minds, hearts, or pain, and that's where it needs to be prevented without resorting to physical force.
      • Pass a law saying "no torture, violence or killing, no exceptions for anyone", and presto, you get quite the revolution and shove society into dealing with the future.

        Umm, that is pretty much the law anyway, unless you wish to ban using violence in self-defense or in law enforcement or in war which is crazy.
        • by h00manist (800926)

          Umm, that is pretty much the law anyway, unless you wish to ban using violence in self-defense or in law enforcement or in war which is crazy.

          Trouble is, everyone with a reasonable lawyer and PR firm uses violence "in self defense", and most often gets away with it. Disagree, become a threat, they defend themselves. The use of force and violence is now institutionalized, sanitized, and invisible. Corporatized. The poor or ignorant, without PR, get involved in "violence". Others get 'briefly disrupted' by (insert undesirable element) and then 'return to normal operation.' In other unrelated news on the next week, there was an accident.

          • by Bartab (233395)

            Self defense is not "trouble". In fact, suggesting that self defense should be removed as a viable legal option should make you a target for elimination. In self defense.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by master0ne (655374)
      except that the person here isnt a "she" only pretending to be a female, and made suicide pacts with these "victims" to encourage them to do so. It could be argued that without this persons "advice" there people could very well be alive and happy. They were not terminally ill... there was no counseling to prove they were even clinically depressed... this person coerced these people into suicide for his own entertainment. I have a problem with someone doing something as deceitful and horrible as this.
      • by Vellmont (569020)

        So the difference being what? One has a single "evil person" who does what they do for their own personal sick joy. The other is a group of people working for a large corporation doing what they do for a paycheck. Single evil deceitful individuals should be held responsible for encouraging bad behavior that could potentially result in death, while groups of people doing the same shouldn't? Or is it simply the suicide is an unacceptable form of bad behavior, and eating scientifically proven unhealthy foo

    • I'll point this out again: the accused has had special training (is an ex nurse) in manipulating the emotions and ideations of others and allegedly used these techniques in his communications with suicide-prone persons to push them toward suicide.

      In a fist fight resulting in death from a blow to the head, a person with no training in fighting should be held to one standard, but the martial arts expert should be held to a higher standard, since he could be expected to know of less lethal ways of terminatin

      • by Vellmont (569020)

        I'll point this out again: the accused has had special training (is an ex nurse) in manipulating the emotions and ideations of others and allegedly used these techniques in his communications with suicide-prone persons to push them toward suicide.

        Special training? WTF? He's a nurse, not a shrink. What kind of "special training" does a nurse receive to manipulate emotions and ideations of others? Is psych 101 really considered "special training"?

        The lengths people are going in this discussion to make thi

  • It's sad that people are being prosecuted for being dicks rather than for breaking actual laws. Mob justice acts with an arbitrary and inconsistent hand, and has no place under the rule of law.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by KDR_11k (778916)

      The law is supposed to define what being a dick means so you can be punished for it. I think I heard of a similar case (probably in another country) where someone got arrested for encouraging suicide. It counts as psychological assault and conspiracy to murder I think.

    • Re:mob justice (Score:4, Informative)

      by kramerd (1227006) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @09:20AM (#31966562)

      It's sad that people are being prosecuted for being dicks rather than for breaking actual laws. Mob justice acts with an arbitrary and inconsistent hand, and has no place under the rule of law.

      He pretended to be a female nurse in order to instruct others on how to commit suicide.

      To clarify, the issue is not that he pretended to be female, but rather that he pretended to be a nurse (although if anyone relied on him being a female for the purpose of committing suicide, it in fact could be an issue).

      I'm fairly certain that fraud, especially in the context of pretending to have medical training, is in fact a crime based on actual laws.

      Meanwhile, he has been charged with two counts of assisting suicide, not convicted by mob justice (for example, being hanged in a tree without a court hearing). He has a chance to prove that he did nothing wrong, or to be convicted of a crime that has been committed, specifically because of rule of law. Your implication that charging someone with a crime based on valid allegations (in this case, based on the fact that the accused admits to having helped people commit suicide) should be seen as mob justice is patently absurd.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jollyreaper (513215)

        He pretended to be a female nurse in order to instruct others on how to commit suicide.

        No, he was goading people into committing suicide by presenting a sympathetic ear, the female bit of course being a big incentive for his lonely victims.

        Suicide pacts are fairly common in Japan. You get suicidal people meeting on the net and forming dysfunctional little suicide support groups. They don't want to die alone so they get together to kill themselves, usually C02 poisoning from a charcoal grill. You just go to sleep and don't wake up. Often times the peer pressure of having a group will sweep peo

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They need harsher penalties for those who commit suicide, so they are deterred from killing themselves. The death penalty would seem appropriate...

  • All your FPS addicts arses are gonna be in jail for not-so-subtly beating people's psyche to a pulp on the interwebs. NO, it was not 'just a game' -- it was meticulously gang-planned, very realistic sadistic, visceral, murder training simulation, with voice torture, body parts, blood sputtering, resulting in very real psychological damage leading directly to depression, lost productivity, income and wages, depression, anger, addiction, violence, murder, and suicides.
  • If the law cannot distinguish between speech and action, then it is a failure.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by h00manist (800926)
      While I agree in principle on the absolute-freedom-of-speech idea, there is one difficult question with it. Speech encouraging and promoting violence to be practiced, promoting hatred, planning for weapons gathering, etc. Yes, the crime is in those who practice it, not preach it. But every massacre starts with a few people preaching it, then lots of people going nuts and doing it, with no way or controlling it.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rwandan_Genocide [wikipedia.org] -- "According to recent commentators the news

  • Yup, there's an app for that: iSuicide.
  • by monoi (811392) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @09:17AM (#31966538)

    From here [thestar.com]:

    Kajouji: I am planning to attempt this Sunday.

    Cami: Wow. You want to use hanging too?

    Kajouji: I’m going to jump.

    Cami: Well, that’s okay, but most people puss out before doing that. Plus, they don’t wanna leave a terribly messy mess for others to clean up.

    Kajouji: I want it to look like an accident. There’s a bridge over the river where there’s a break in the ice. The water is really rough right now, and it should carry me back under the ice, so I can’t really come up for air. And if drowning doesn’t get me, hopefully the hypothermia will. Is there anything you want to do before you go? I’m trying to get my affairs in order—cleaning my room, paying off my loan.

    Cami: I’ve got everything ready to go. My mom will get my insurance and money, so there will be no worries there. I’ve got my funeral s--- all taken care of. Got rope and stuff ready. Do you have a webcam?

    Kajouji: Yes.

    Cami: Well, if it comes down to hanging, I can help you with it with the cam. Proper positioning of the rope is important.

    Kajouji: Thank you.

    Cami: That method is so fast and certain, I can’t think of another way for me. I don’t want to feel nothing.

    Words fail me, really.

    • by citizenr (871508)

      Words fail me, really.

      Weird, I dont see any problem with that chat.

      • Hi,

        Assuming you are not trolling, then you ahve a real problem. There is a definite problem with encouraging someone to commit suicide. You not seeing a problem with it shows a complete disconnect with human compassion.

        I'd also suggest you probably have problems with relationships in your life which will only get worse as time goes on. Please get professional help.

        • by citizenr (871508)

          Hi,

          Assuming you are not trolling, then you ahve a real problem. There is a definite problem with encouraging someone to commit suicide.

          I dont see the encouraging part. Some dude wants to kill himself, other dude pretending to be a girl tries to convince him hanging is better than jumping.

          You not seeing a problem with it shows a complete disconnect with human compassion.

          Compassion? Is that the same compassion that kills abortion doctors?
          We don't know why he wants to kill himself, we only know that he already is convinced he wants to jump. There is no inciting to commit suicide, rather to do it in a specific way.

          I was expecting bullying and/or blackmailing to commit suicide, instead there is only someone giving advice to

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by monoi (811392)

            I don't think she "committed" to dying until she stood on the bridge above the Rideau and decided to fill her lungs with water.

            Here's a quote from the mother of the other guy;

            Mark had had a nervous breakdown and he was depressed and incredibly susceptible. This person was there whispering in his ear every time he logged on. In the last email, this person claimed to be a nurse, saying he had medical training, and proposed a suicide pact.

            Emphasis mine. The point being, he helped these people make that "commit

          • "I dont see the encouraging part. Some dude wants to kill himself, other dude pretending to be a girl tries to convince him hanging is better than jumping."

            He sure as hell isn't discouraging him from committing suicide... or actively seeking police or other authorities to help the other guy out.

            Here's an analogy with a less controversial and sympathetic crime:

            If someone told you that they were about to murder their girlfriend told you they were going to do it with a knife, if you responded that a baseball b
  • From the quick flash on the screen by the local news, our law might be worse than "encourage". It might even criminalize "inform."

  • I think Mr. Melchert-Dinke ought to be writing to his Congressman. In fact, why doesn't he start corresponding with EVERY member of Congress.

  • Wow (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jollyreaper (513215) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @09:57AM (#31966762)

    This man must be a 4chan god, a living avatar of Anonymous, the inherent contradiction of an individual embodiment of collective asshattery whose very existence generates lulz.

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