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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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  • Hmm (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 24, 2010 @08:31AM (#31966352)

    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 with my body as I wish (including self-terminate).

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

    by h00manist ( 800926 ) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @09:32AM (#31966626) Journal
    There is freedom of speech, as long as nobody listens. If too many people start listening to you and doing something based on your speech, all your freedoms - not just speech - will soon start being questioned and curtailed all over. Take a look at anyone saying something unpopular, whether right or wrong. In the case of speech encouraging violence, death, etc, if people listen, there will be quite a reaction. Don't ask me if it's right or wrong. I don't think it's that simple a question, with black and white answers for every case.
  • Re:Ok, so what? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 24, 2010 @09:36AM (#31966660)

    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: bravery lies with those people able to put material objectivism and the well-being of others ahead of their own self-preservation instinct (sometimes, dying does benefit the greater good).

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

  • 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.

  • Re:Ok, so what? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Will.Woodhull ( 1038600 ) <> on Saturday April 24, 2010 @10:56AM (#31967114) Homepage Journal

    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 for abuse.

    He is no longer a nurse, so he can no longer be sanctioned by the state Board Of Nursing that licensed him. From what is known from the story, he should definitely face trial. At trial, he should be held to a higher standard than most persons because of his training, in the same way that a martial arts master who kills a stranger in a street fight should be held to a higher standard than the average bloke.

  • by h00manist ( 800926 ) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @11:27AM (#31967246) Journal

    It's contextual. Speech doesn't mean anything that is a vocalization. Vocalizations can be speech, or they can be intended to create immediate, injurious actions, bypassing other people's rational cognitive function.

    There's nothing wrong with using the word "Fire" but shouting it in a crowded theater is not protected free speech. Similarly, telling somebody to drop dead is generally protected by your right to free speech, sure, but if you go up to somebody standing on a ledge, who is clearly mentally ill and considering suicide and you tell *them* "Drop dead, you worthless sack of shit. Nobody likes you and nobody will care if you are dead", well you are no longer expressing yourself in a manner intended to convey ideas to a rational actor (speech), but rather trying to cause an imminent action that you know will be fatal to another person.

    Is there a legal concept of "speech intended to create immediate, injurious actions, bypassing people's rational cognitive function." ?

  • Re:Quite right (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MindlessAutomata ( 1282944 ) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @02:03PM (#31968262)

    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?

  • Re:Ok, so what? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CondeZer0 ( 158969 ) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @10:24PM (#31971004) Homepage

    > Don't ask me if it's right or wrong. I don't think it's that simple a question, with black and white answers for every case.

    Actually it is pretty black and white and very simple: Freedom is about being able to do things that are unpopular and others don't approve of. Anything else is not freedom at all.

    Or, as one of my favorite quotes [] much more eloquently put it:

    "The only freedom which counts is the freedom to do what some other people think to be wrong. There is no point in demanding freedom to do that which all will applaud. All the so-called liberties or rights are things which have to be asserted against others who claim that if such things are to be allowed their own rights are infringed or their own liberties threatened. This is always true, even when we speak of the freedom to worship, of the right of free speech or association, or of public assembly. If we are to allow freedoms at all there will constantly be complaints that either the liberty itself or the way in which it is exercised is being abused, and, if it is a genuine freedom, these complaints will often be justified. There is no way of having a free society in which there is not abuse. Abuse is the very hallmark of liberty." -- Lord Chief Justice Halisham

I've got a bad feeling about this.