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Reddit Subpoenaed In Wrongful Death Lawsuit 303

Posted by timothy
from the playing-the-blame-game dept.
redletterdave writes "In March, a 51-year-old Reddit user named 'Black Visions' wrote his last post on Reddit. He had been writing frequently about depression and suicide, but in his last post where he also threatened his own suicide, others decided to egg him on even further. That turned out to the be the last straw: Seattle news soon reported Jerry had jumped eight stories from a hotel room in the Double Tree in Tukwila, Washington. Reddit announced on Wednesday that the user's sister Sandy has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against nine Reddit users who egged him on, and Reddit has also been subpoenaed in identifying the information of another three individuals."
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Reddit Subpoenaed In Wrongful Death Lawsuit

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  • by msobkow (48369) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @01:33PM (#39660775) Homepage Journal

    The people involved did a despicable thing. But I can't see how it's any more illegal than someone shouting "Jump!" at someone on a roof top when emergency services are trying to talk them down.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2012 @01:35PM (#39660827)

    The people involved did a despicable thing. But I can't see how it's any more illegal than someone shouting "Jump!" at someone on a roof top when emergency services are trying to talk them down.

    The difference is simple. It's in writing, here. There's money to be made.

  • by InvisibleClergy (1430277) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @01:41PM (#39660945)

    That's why /b/ doesn't keep a record of its posts - by the time a family member would react to something like this, the post would already be gone. And even then, the people are posting as anonymous anyway.

    Not posting AC because I'm a real man.

  • by matunos (1587263) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @01:47PM (#39661055)

    Legalties aside, if you preserve your own common decency online, then you wouldn't egg on someone to commit suicide, precisely because you *don't* know if they're serious or not.

  • Re:Poor guy. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Entropius (188861) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @01:54PM (#39661211)

    I'm normally a pretty ardent "speech should not be illegal" type, but intentionally egging on someone who is depressed with the intent to provoke them into suicide ought to be a crime.

    If I know you've got a potentially lethal peanut allergy, and I slip peanut oil into your food (something normally harmless) knowing that it will provoke a severe medical condition, then I ought to be held liable.

    This is no different than intentionally exacerbating a mental illness, IMO: it's taking advantage of someone's medical condition to hurt them by doing something that, because of that condition, is uniquely able to harm them.

  • by Entropius (188861) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @01:56PM (#39661249)

    There's a difference between not doing anything and intentionally making a medical condition worse.

    If you're having a severe asthma attack on the street, the decent thing for me to do would be to call an ambulance. Just walking on by is not decent, but it's also not a crime (unless I'm a medical provider). But blowing cigar smoke in your face hoping that I can make your condition worse so that you keel over? That's different.

  • Re:Choice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wjcofkc (964165) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:03PM (#39661421)
    Clearly you don't suffer from clinical depression. It's a whole different reality from the common human experience. Under such a condition you can easily loose your free will to a great roaring abyss that you clearly don't understand and I hope you never do. That's why people like this need help and are easily coerced into yet darker and colder places. He didn't jump. He was pushed by the growing darkness consuming his mind, rational thought, and free will.
  • Re:Poor guy. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by N0Man74 (1620447) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:06PM (#39661493)

    Christ.. another "there ought to be a law against (x)", or "(x) ought to be a crime"? Seriously, there are too many of your types out there screwing things up already. We keep making dumb laws that have rather nasty unforeseen consequences because some people get their panties in a twist over some distasteful, "deviant", or irksome behavior.

    Yeah, those guys were assholes. They showed a severe lack of humanity and empathy. They are worthy of criticizing, shunning, and shaming. But that doesn't mean it should become illegal to be an unsavory prick. Putting people in prison because they are assholes hiding behind the anonymity of the internet is bullshit.

  • by dmesg0 (1342071) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:07PM (#39661525)

    It looks like the guy being sued (AlyoshaV) simply didn't read the post till the end (where the suicide note was), and commented on partial post with some stupid joke.
    Had he read the post till the end, the suit could be avoided (probably not the suicide).

    This should be an important message to all slashdotters: always read all posts in their entirety before commenting. Always RTFA thoroughly till the very end, or you could be the next murderer.

  • by bhagwad (1426855) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:27PM (#39661979) Homepage
    Asthama is a physical condition. Laws deal with physical harm, not mental harm to adults. No one cares about anyone's feelings and the law shouldn't care either. Adults are expected to take care of their own brains.
  • by sjames (1099) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:27PM (#39661987) Homepage

    But why should you preserve your own common decency online in the first place?

    Because if everyone decides not to, the Internet becomes nothing more than an echo chamber for trolls and other lowlifes.

    If you just move on to the next post without comment, nothing happens. Sounds like a good option.

  • by dbet (1607261) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:42PM (#39662273)

    The people involved did a despicable thing.

    Why? If your life is that bad, maybe it's good advice to tell you to end it. No sense being in pain every day. If you have some ideology that every life should be extended as long as possible no matter what, that's fine, but not everyone shares it. Some people's lives suck, and it's theirs to end if they wish.

  • by Shoten (260439) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:59PM (#39662665)

    The people involved did a despicable thing. But I can't see how it's any more illegal than someone shouting "Jump!" at someone on a roof top when emergency services are trying to talk them down.

    The difference is simple. It's in writing, here. There's money to be made.

    I don't quite follow your point...are you saying that Reddit's business model encourages people to egg others on to cause suicide, because it was in writing? I don't follow how that's true at all. The people egging him on were commenters, who don't get paid to comment. And if you read the actual comment thread, you'll see that there were quite a few people trying to talk him out of it as well; did they all cause Reddit to lose money, or have to pay to post their comments?

    If you want to point fingers at every situation where there's some organization with a profit-loss statement that is in any way tangentially involved in someone doing something wrong, you're going to need a HELL of a lot of fingers. And it doesn't mean that profit was ever the motive in the wrongdoing. Gah, why don't you complain about the profit motive of the company that made the sidewalk he landed on, while you're at it? Good thing there's no money in gravity...

  • by ClintJCL (264898) <clintjcl+slashdo ... m ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday April 12, 2012 @03:02PM (#39662727) Homepage Journal
    Your whole post flies in the face of the fact that no criminal action was taken (because, as I asserted, no law was broken). This is a civil tort. I could sue you right now for your post. I'd lose, but I could. Torts can be done for any reason. Wrongful death being the reason. You could hurt my feelings, I kill myself, sue you for wrongful death. You'd have to pay a lot of money to not lose, too. i'm gonna go do that now {JOKE! JOKE! I'M JOKING!}
  • It's Me Not You (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jimmerz28 (1928616) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @04:00PM (#39663929)

    Suicide is a personal choice, not anyone else's. I don't see why everyone always tries to blame bullies, commenters, family, etc.

    Regardless of if it's a rational decision or not it's my own choice, just like robbing a bank is my fault.

    Do I get to blame commenters urging me to commit other crimes too?

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