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Former Nurse Charged With Aiding Suicides Via Web 168

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

    by gmack ( 197796 ) <> 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: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:mob justice (Score:2, Informative)

    by KDR_11k ( 778916 ) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @08:58AM (#31966466)

    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.

  • by monoi ( 811392 ) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @09:17AM (#31966538)

    From here []:

    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.

  • 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:Quite right (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 24, 2010 @10:06AM (#31966820)

    I think suicide actually goes beyond humans, and is a very natural thing. Not an animal expert but I suspect depression is an natural animal instinct that evolved to benefit the greater good of the species to deal with situations such as over population, injury, inability to adapt, or other conditions that make the individual useless and of no or negative benefit to the species.

    Of course you don't see squirrels putting guns to their heads because they don't need to. In nature if an animal were to become depressed, it would just use less energy defending itself from its natural predators, not feed itself sufficiently, or something like that and eventually *chomp* no more critter.

    So yes, if humans want to reduce suicide they should focus on detecting and treating depression, being sure to involve friends, relatives, and making sure the individual had a sufficient purpose in the world.

  • by monoi ( 811392 ) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @04:19PM (#31969076)

    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 "commitment".

    To put it another way: humans who are not ill have a minimum responsibility not to aggravate the illness of others.

"My sense of purpose is gone! I have no idea who I AM!" "Oh, my God... You've.. You've turned him into a DEMOCRAT!" -- Doonesbury