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Reddit Subpoenaed In Wrongful Death Lawsuit 303

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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  • Shouldn't be a crime (Score:5, Interesting)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @01:34PM (#39660819)

    On the internet, nobody knows if you are who you say you are. You could really be a depressed person, or you could be a 7 line perl script. You could be talking to a real 15 year old girl, or it could be an FBI agent. Then there's products like Siri, cleverbot, etc., that blur the line even further. But even if that problem could be 'solved', there is no way to know whether an internet identity is a single person or a group.

    So given that identity is not provable online, why should people act like it is? Also, if you don't mod this post +5, I'm going to hang myself with a power cord.

  • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @01:37PM (#39660873)

    But I can't see how it's any more illegal than

    It's not illegal. A 'wrongful death' lawsuit is a civil action, not a criminal one. In this country, you can be sued for anything. I can sue you for pointing out that suing people for stupid shit is stupid, or because you have a lower slashdot ID than I do. I'm perfectly serious here; citation []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2012 @01:57PM (#39661251)

    While this is sad, on several if not all fronts, online forums are not an outlet for therapy. That is, unless that forum is dealing with therapy itself.

    Simple fact is, he chose to go to reddit. He chose to air his problems. Yes I realize that when in depressed states people can think they appear to have no choice at all, but that all goes back to state of mind, regardless of exterior influence by people on reddit. Even moreso if he felt that was a place he felt a part of.

    Now I don't browse reddit often, I should say maybe once a month, but if it's like every other open community on the net, the range of personalities extend to the full of humanity. See 'Greater Internet Dickwad Theory' for examples.

    I feel for the girl suing, I really do, but nothing good is going to come out of this. Closure does not come out of a courtroom or through the Internet. It might seem like it can, but the physical and the virtual are 2 vastly different places. Especially when the death of a loved one is involved.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:02PM (#39661399)

    On the internet, nobody knows if you are who you say you are.

    This may be more appropriate than you realize. From a Reddit thread:

    I'm sorry but the real troll here is the author of this post. The person in the article is not black_visions.

    Black_visions made that post Friday 03/09/12 at 5:37 UTC. We're being told that he killed himself that night. Yet, the news report says the person committed suicide on the Tuesday the 13th of March at a hotel. The sister says "a little over a month ago." Today is the 11th of March, not yet the one month mark looking the police report with the incident occurring 03/13/12 at 12:42 pm. Case number 12-1762

    Only one man fits the description of the guy in the article: Culver, William M, 51 of Shoreline, March 13 died in King County, WA. The rest of the obits for the area are here.

    Someone pulled this same exact stunt in /r/foreveralone a few months ago. Here was the original post from a guy saying he was going to kill himself. Here is the follow up post from his "sister". It's clearly fake, and I'd be willing to bet it's same troll as the one behind this.

    EDIT: One more thing. Black_visions on a weekend night. The guy who died did it on Tuesday afternoon. That means that if it is the same guy, then the man waited 3 and a half days to kill himself after he made his post. By then the bullying posts were gone- they were deleted that same night by qanan - so unless he took screenshots of the comments as they were made and sent them to his sister, she couldn't have seen them.

    From this thread. []

  • by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:09PM (#39661547)

    So... if you break up with your girlfriend and she jumps off a bridge because of it, then you're an accessory?

  • by morari ( 1080535 ) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:19PM (#39661801) Journal

    Why would anyone want to stop the suicidal anyway? Our planet is vastly over populated and already straining for adequate resources. If someone wants to kill themselves, let them do it. Geeze!

  • Skeptical (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jiro ( 131519 ) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:27PM (#39661969)

    Comments on Reddit point out that
    -- This has happened before in other places with a fake sister
    -- the suicide was committed by jumping off a building, while the user threatened to commit suicide by shooting himself
    -- the suicide happened several days after the nasty replies were deleted
    -- the user's real name was supposedly Jerry, but the name of the man who killed himself was William.

    Furthermore, carefully reading the Reddit link itself, Reddit has not received a subpoena. Rather, Reddit has been *told by the supposed sister of the user* that they *will be subpoenaed* in the future; at no point does Reddit claim to have actually received the subpoena. As a bonus, the man's supposed sister claims "We were told by our lawyer not to give any other information out such as our full names or the people to be named in the lawsuit", which makes her claims immune to verification.

    It's quite likely that some troll saw a suicide in the newspaper and decided to claim that the suicide was connected when they were really just trolling. Ruling that out would require having the subpoena, not just having a claim that one was sent.

  • by Jonner ( 189691 ) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:50PM (#39662469)

    This isn't a criminal charge, but a civil suit. I wouldn't be surprised if shouting "Jump!" at someone on a rooftop could expose one to such liability as well.

Receiving a million dollars tax free will make you feel better than being flat broke and having a stomach ache. -- Dolph Sharp, "I'm O.K., You're Not So Hot"