Suicide Pacts


The Main Page - A Review

Governance Structures Found in Several Different Text-Based Online Communities

Ethical and Social Problems that Arise in Online Communities

Identities and Social Interactions in MUDs

Online Gaming Communities and Their Governance Structures

Participation in online communities can lead to tragic consequences and one example is that of suicide pacts. A suicide pact is a commitment a person makes with another to commit suicide together at a specific time, place, manner, and method. It is social support of a taboo behavior. Tough this behavior was considered rare in the past, online communities have made forming these pacts even easier. “If the latter is the case, then the epidemiology of suicide pacts is likely to change, with more young people living on their own, who may have otherwise committed suicide alone, joining with like-minded suicidal people [via the internet,] to die together,” according the January 2, 2005 Lab Business Week story dealing with suicide pacts. The article told of the deaths of nine Japanese internet users who created special websites to plan and enact their suicides in October of 2004.

Genuine Friendships

There has been a great deal of research on the question on whether relationships formed online are as meaningful as those formed face to face. Most study points to the idea that while relationships that are simply maintained online but have real-world counterparts retain meaningfulness, relationships formed online with out a real-world counterpart “simply serve as less meaningful substitutes” (Shaw and Gant, 2002) . The Thai Press Reports discussed this phenomenon in a November 8, 2004 article. “Noting however that friendships formed in chat rooms were merely virtual friendships, Dr. Aphichai said that Internet users had no way of knowing whether or not the people they were chatting to were genuine.”

Depression online

Ingenuine relationships and isolation play a large part in the rationale about the cause of depression online. Experts have found, “loneliness, depression, and daily stress were positively linked to greater Internet usage when researchers controlled for possible mediating variables.” (Shaw and Gant, 2002) The social dynamic of the internet in creating virtual communities while users are still essentially isolated has been shown to precipitate such negative feelings as loneliness and depression. “Some argue that Internet usage, being a solitary activity, necessarily detracts from the time a person spends interacting with other, at least on a face-to-face basis, and therefore damage interpersonal relationships.” (Shaw and Gant, 2002) This cyclical effect of damage personal relationship being augmented by less meaningful relationships on line may be a key reason to why suicide pacts are forming online.


Researchers fear the increasing frequency of cases online “…might herald a new disturbing trend in suicide pacts, involving strangers meeting over the Internet, becoming increasingly common” (Lab Business Week, Jan. 2, 2005). In fact, the same article states, “An increasing number of web sites graphically describe suicide methods, including details of doses of medication that would be fatal in overdose. Such web sites can perhaps trigger suicidal behavior in predisposed individuals, particularly adolescents, said the author.” Other evidence supports this hypothesis as possible copycat incidents have been reported in Japan. This problem is an ideal site for the institution of online governance in communities. Since these communities have just recently been recognize, different forms of online governance have not yet to been explored.