Paragraph 6 reads: "Sociologists have a new case to ponder. On Wednesday, 19-year-old Biggs ingested a fatal excess of Xanax and Lexapro and lay down to die, still wearing his black baseball cap, as his webcam broadcast the scene. Some among his bizarre Internet audience, using the medium of instant messaging, had urged him on."
SSRI Stories is of the opinion that, although newspapers and T.V. media are giving excess reporting to this story, very few [two newspapers] are telling the true tale - that this boy was taking an SSRI antidepressant called Lexapro and this antidepressant has a Black Box Warning from the FDA for suicide.
The same is true of the 13 year old girl who committed suicide whose trial is now being held in federal court against the mother of the 13 year old's girlfriend who pretended to be a teen-aged boy on the Net and insulted the girl. No newspapers are mentioning that the 13 year old was on an SSRI antidepressant called Celexa which carries the Black Box Warning for suicide for those younger than 25.
Web suicide a new case for sociologistsThey were no better than the witnesses who turned away the night Kitty Genovese was murdered.
Except, in the death of Abraham Biggs Jr., they didn't turn away. They watched with callous indifference as the young Pembroke Pines man orchestrated a webcam suicide. They let him die.
In 1964, 38 neighbors and passersby heard the screams of Genovese, a 29-year-old woman, outside her New York City apartment building or saw a man attack her with a knife. No one called the police. They turned away. They elected not to get involved.
The attacker fled, returned 10 minutes later and hunted down the bleeding Genovese who was cowering in a hallway. He raped her, killed her and stole $49 from her corpse.
Shocked Americans decided those 38 apathetic witnesses had failed a fundamental test of social decency. The Genovese murder became a case study in human indifference.
Sociologists have a new case to ponder. On Wednesday, 19-year-old Biggs ingested a fatal excess of Xanax and Lexapro and lay down to die, still wearing his black baseball cap, as his webcam broadcast the scene. Some among his bizarre Internet audience, using the medium of instant messaging, had urged him on.
Finally, after hours watching a motionless body of a young man in the fetal position, someone out there reacted. The website administrator and the police were notified. By then, according to the Pembroke Pines police report, the body was ``cold to the touch and rigor mortis had set in.''
The 12 lost hours looked like another failed test of social decency, circa the Internet age.
Maybe this particular strain of apathy stemmed from the abstract element in Internet interactions, where real human tragedy can be difficult to tell from surreal farce. Keith Whitworth, a Texas Christian University social scientist who studies the evolving ethics of social networking and the Internet, suggested that some viewers watching on their computer screens and typing out appalling text messages ``could absolve themselves of guilt and say they didn't know if this was reality or if they were participating in theater.''
And there is something about the Internet -- a cold, impersonal anonymity that seems to license uncivil behavior. Whitworth said Monday that in his class that very morning, his students were sure ''that the individuals who egged Mr. Biggs on would never, face to face, have actually handed him the pills.'' The text-message senders would never, in person, had urged the young man to kill himself. ''But the technology allows a moral detachment,'' Whitworth said.
I'm sure of that, judging by a steady batch of vulgar, rude, insulting and sometimes threatening e-mail from strangers who I doubt would ever utter such remarks to someone's face. The Miami Herald regularly scours scurrilous comments posted anonymously by readers of our online edition.
Whitworth, stunned by the unseemly messages in his own in-box, now forbids his own students from communicating with him via e-mail. He talked about the still-evolving sense of ethics in this new medium.
After the death of Abraham Biggs Jr., it seems the ethics still lag far behind the technology.