90 Day Jane

Jane has declared that in ninety days she's going to kill herself, and she's keeping a daily blog to share her experiences during her final months. She writes:

I am going to kill myself in 90 days. What else should i say? This blog is not a cry for help or even to get attention. It's simply a public record of my last 90 days in existence. I'm not depressed and nothing extremely horrible has lead me to this decision. But, does it really have to? I mean, as an atheist I feel life has no greater purpose.

As of today, February 11, she has 84 days left.

I can't predict the future, so I can't say with certainty whether Jane will or will not kill herself at the appointed time, but my hunch is that her blog is complete b.s. There are a couple of reasons for suspecting this. First of all, this is not the first suicide blog to have appeared on the internet, and they invariably end up being fake. Remember the "Countdown to Oblivion" blog, in which Jerry Romero declared he was going to kill himself on January 13th, 2005? When the date arrived, he posted a single-word message for all his readers: PWNED.

Second, her comment that "as an atheist I feel life has no greater purpose" strikes me as phony. It sounds like what a religious person imagines that an atheist would say. Most atheists, I think, would say that they don't need a deity to have a fulfilling, meaningful existence... thank you, very much. Our relationships with other people and what we do with our life is what gives it meaning.

In fact, I suspect that religious people are far more likely to commit suicide, since they view death as not being final. They might imagine killing themselves as a way to start over, either through reincarnation or by becoming a spirit. For instance, you don't often hear of atheist suicide bombers.

In this vein, there have been recorded cases of people who have committed suicide as an experiment, in the belief that they would be able to find out what life after death was like, and find a way to communicate that knowledge back to the living. For instance, the Jan 24, 1927 issue of the Chicago Tribune records the case of W. Cassels Noe, a medical student at the University of Wisconsin, who "shot and killed himself today, leaving a note saying he wanted to learn what was beyond the grave. The note, addressed to a Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity brother, promised him that Noe would communicate with him from the beyond as soon as possible and tell what death is and what it brings."

There's no evidence that Noe ever found a way to send his friend a message.

Update: I should revise what I said above. Having thought about it for a few minutes, I don't actually think that a person's religious beliefs (or lack of them) has any predictive value of whether that person is likely to take their own life. So I'll take back that line about religious people being more likely to commit suicide. It was a knee-jerk response to "Jane's" suggestion that she might as well commit suicide since she's an atheist. I'll simply point out that, just as there are certainly depressed people who commit suicide and declare that they don't believe in God, there are also plenty of people who kill themselves because they think they're going on to some kind of afterlife. The Heaven's Gate cult here in San Diego was one of the most famous examples of that here in America.


Posted on Mon Feb 11, 2008


My problem with "I feel life has no greater purpose" is...huh? I mean, what does that mean? No greater purpose than...what, exactly?

I must take exception to your remark, Alex, that "religious people are far more likely to commit suicide, since they view death as not being final." It depends on the religion -- and for atheists, I expect that it depends on the particular atheists. My own religion does not favor suicide; it doesn't say that all people who commit suicide are going to Hell necessarily, but suicide is definitely not considered a desirable way to enter the afterlife.

I also disagree that atheists are necessarily less likely to commit suicide. I don't think they are necessarily more likely to, either -- I don't know; I wouldn't be too surprised to find out that there isn't a big difference. The feelings that sometimes result in suicide are universal to human beings, but individual human beings differ drastically in their reponse to those feelings.

But I too think it's probably a fake. It almost sounds like somebody's working on a novel. Really. And I hope with all my heart that it is a fake. I'd rather be taken in by a fake than watch a real countdown.
Posted by Kathleen  on  Mon Feb 11, 2008  at  09:24 AM
I think one of your premises is incorrect re: religious affiliation vs. suicide.

This is from the American Journal of Psychiatry, Dec. 2004.

Posted by TS  on  Mon Feb 11, 2008  at  09:32 AM
Following up on the religion vs. suicide theme, here is a pretty good page that with an excellent quote regarding Suicide Terrorism. It is near the bottom of the page.

Posted by TS  on  Mon Feb 11, 2008  at  09:41 AM
That's interesting, T.S. It fits in with what I sort of instinctively believed but had no evidence for.

But anyway, I'd like to know what, if anything, Jane means by "I feel life has no greater purpose." Her writing is otherwise clear, understandable, and really rather skilled (all of which, since they are so rare on the Internet, are what make me wonder if the blog is being done by a writer working on a novel), So that dangling "no greater purpose" really stands out.

I can't bring myself to write to her and ask, but I would like to know.
Posted by Kathleen  on  Mon Feb 11, 2008  at  09:48 AM
>>I must take exception to your remark, Alex, that "religious people are far more likely to commit suicide, since they view death as not being final." It depends on the religion -- and for atheists, I expect that it depends on the particular atheists.<<

Point taken. I think you're right. I posted an update in which I toned down my original assertion.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Mon Feb 11, 2008  at  10:28 AM
Me being severely depressed and having suicidal ideation I will say that I have mentioned that I had considered suicide in the comments section of one of my posts, but I haven't even considered posting my intentions blatantly for all to see. The title of the post prior to my most serious consideration of it was titled "Goodbye" and was sort of a veiled message to people that it wasn't just said to me... I was saying it to anyone who cared to read it. I didn't do it as I still feel a ton of responsibility to my children and a few other people - plus while I am not confident about the circumstances that have brought me to this condition changing for the better, I still have a miniscule glimmer of hope that things could change for the better. I also feel that it would be terrible if the people I left behind ended up in worse shape because of my choice.

I was keeping a journal for about 2 months - basically a diary of a drunken madman. It has some pretty ugly thoughts and moments when the pain I was feeling was unbearable. I have not let anyone read it, although my brother made an entry in it while I slept one evening encouraging me to keep going on.

I can't say what Jane has in mind... as my situation is far different from hers. I suspect it is a hoax. If I were to go through with it, I would do so privately.

People on the OTCC forum here know of my feelings and I am not ashamed or hesitant to reveal them here in comments - just letting you know the inner thoughts of someone who has REALLY thought about it recently.

Posted by Oppiejoe  in  Haslett  on  Mon Feb 11, 2008  at  10:33 AM
...oh yeah, I would consider myself Agnostic from the religious aspect of things... FYI

I was raised Roman Catholic though.
Posted by oppiejoe  in  Haslett  on  Mon Feb 11, 2008  at  10:35 AM
What do you want to bet she's a writer? I keep a blog for one of my characters as an exercise, and this strikes me as someone who is exploring a character rather than someone who is really serious.
Posted by Elizabeth  in  Massachusetts  on  Mon Feb 11, 2008  at  11:41 AM
An Athiest would never say that.....I completely agree.....Actually, I use to think of suicide frequently when I was religious....as soon as I quit religion altogether, it was like a huge boulder was lifted off of me....
Posted by Illicit Mars  in  Got Lost  on  Mon Feb 11, 2008  at  11:54 AM
It's a bit of an overreaction to class ALL people with spiritual beliefs into the same stereotype. While Islam encourages its followers to their demise, Christianity is opposed to suicide. Part of the Christian belief is to try to improve the world through kindness to others (i.e., charity, etc.) That can't be done via dead believers and as humans are the creation of God, unnecessary destruction of human lives is to be utterly avoided. It confounds me to no end that atheists group a hate-based religion and a love-based religion together simply because both believe in a higher being. When was the last time you heard of a Christian of Jew being a terrorist? Don't group us in with those nutjobs.

As for the blog itself, it would almost have to be fake. I mean, surely this woman has friends/family who would see it and try to get her help, right? It seems like a prank in very bad taste.
Posted by SuperGrouper  in  America  on  Mon Feb 11, 2008  at  03:30 PM
I don't think "Jane's" statement fits the profile of someone who is serious about committing suicide. In general, people who willingly kill themselves or willingly submit to being killed are severely depressed, terminally ill, or consciously sacrificing themselves for some higher principal (the latter happens in wars, including guerilla warfare and terrorist attacks).

My guess is that this is a promotion for a novel, movie, TV show, or some other viral marketing campaign. The production values are suspiciously high for a personal blog.
Posted by Big Gary  in  Plano, Texas  on  Mon Feb 11, 2008  at  04:06 PM
SuperGrouper, even as you argue against stereotyping religious people, you stereotype some religious people. It's true that Christianity does not encourage suicide (although there are some aberrant exceptions, such as the People's Temple in its last days at Jonestown). By the same token, Islam does NOT "encourage its followers" to commit suicide. In fact, most Muslim leaders and scholars say that Islam strictly forbids suicide (as well as murder). As with Christianity, there may be a few aberrant exceptions, but this is what the vast majority of Muslims believe and teach. Islam is not a "hate-based" religion. In the Muslim world, some people are filled with hate, but it would be very hard to demonstrate that hatred is more prevalent among Muslims than among Christians or members of other major religions (or than among atheists or agnostics). As with everything else, some of us do it better than others do.

And there certainly are numerous examples of terrorists who were/are Christians and Jews. It's not typical of either religion, though, nor is it typical of Islam (nor Buddhism nor Hinduism, for that matter).
Posted by Big Gary  in  San Benito, Texas  on  Mon Feb 11, 2008  at  04:24 PM
As a religious person who had chemically-induced suicidal tendencies in the recent past, I'd like to say that I had no desire to end my life because "I'd go to Heaven" it was purely because of a side-effect of a medicine. I no longer have the depression, due to a religious event. The causes of suicide are many and are not, as far as I understand, not exclusively or even mostly confined to any specific group, religious or not. There may be some groups that have a slightly higher rate of suicide or a slightly lower rate but I have neve heard of theists or atheists being a group that was either higher or lower much less a group that could be eliminated as a group that had suicides.
I would guess that by "no higher purpose" it is meant that there is no purpose higher than merely animal existence. Just a guess.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Mon Feb 11, 2008  at  04:46 PM
Jane, if you're reading this, harken to my words, and bouy your spirit with this Ancient Revelation Of The Path To Eternal Happiness, which I willingly give to you now: "Feed 'Em Fish Heads". Repeated regularly, that mantra will strew your life-trail with fragrant rose petals, some plucked rose plants with nasty thorns, bloody fingers, stained clothes, a subcutaneous infection that lingers for weeks, and a smile on your face. Glad to help.
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Mon Feb 11, 2008  at  05:17 PM
At the University of Cincinnati, Sociology 102, about 1988 (no memory of name of instructor but I can try to look through my filing cabinets), we were taught that although all such incidents are rare, Jews were more likely to commit suicide and less likely to murder, Catholics more likely to murder and less likely to commit suicide, and Protestants somewhere in the middle.

No sources given in the lecture.

I can believe that's the way things worked out in the U.S. in recent years but I strongly doubt if it's a global constant.
Posted by Mark  on  Mon Feb 11, 2008  at  06:26 PM
"So I'll take back that line about religious people being more likely to commit suicide. It was a knee-jerk response to "Jane's" suggestion that she might as well commit suicide since she's an atheist."

I think you may have been more correct the first time, Alex.

I agree with you that she sounds like a religious person who thinks that is how an atheist thinks.

Ultimately, my guess is that this is fake, some kind of promotion.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Mon Feb 11, 2008  at  06:39 PM
CMG, yes it could be how a religious person thinks an athiest would think. But it could also be how an overly logical person thinks an athiest would think.
Oh, BTW, I also think this is fake.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Mon Feb 11, 2008  at  08:01 PM
as an atheist i'm slightly offended. i think i lead a pretty beautiful life and i wouldn't just throw it away. and just because i don't believe in god doesn't mean i believe i just rot in the ground when i die.

i agree. it's most likely b.s.
Posted by alexie  in  hotlanta  on  Mon Feb 11, 2008  at  10:50 PM
Let me be frank...

We're overpopulated and the population in the world is spiraling out of control.

It won't hurt to lose one undesirable. After all, she wanted it, right?

Hey, I said it.
Posted by Anonymous  on  Tue Feb 12, 2008  at  01:29 AM
As an atheist myself, I place an extremely high value on life and I intend to live as long and as fully as I can because I believe this is the only chance I get. I not only think the blog is a fake, but I also think the writer is a silly ninny with no understanding of religion, atheism, or depression.
Posted by Terran  on  Tue Feb 12, 2008  at  04:30 AM
I thought atheists believed (soeaking as someone who refuses to follow any organised religion but has a vague undefined belief in a force of nature that couldn't care less whether we exist or not, as long as we don't get in the way) that the greater purpose of life was to live a good and decent life WITHOUT reference to a book to tell them 'murder bad, forgiveness good'. In fact, as atheists don't believe in an afterlife, why would they commit suicide as they've got no better place to go to? Sounds to me like someone saying 'athesists have nothing to keep them alive' type argument.
Posted by Nona  on  Tue Feb 12, 2008  at  05:43 AM
I suspect that after the 90 days we will get some kind of revelation. If she would really kill herself the blog would just stop. Probably there is some kinda purpose to getting our attention for 90 days. Maybe there will be a religious message at the end, that she has seen the light, found Jesus and refound a meaning for living. If that happens its a sick joke proving her wrong.
Posted by Daan Webstra  in  Holland  on  Tue Feb 12, 2008  at  06:11 AM
I think it is more than likely to be a fake, someones creative writing project or a bid get attention. I live close a Bridgend that has sean many teenagers who have websites on facebook have taken there own life. Sad realy what makes it worse is that this idiot will probebly encourage other people to follow...
Posted by patrick  in  Wales  on  Tue Feb 12, 2008  at  07:25 AM
Okay, Bye Bye , who gives a shit
Posted by JPG  in  Hollanda  on  Tue Feb 12, 2008  at  07:32 AM
To JPG and Anonamous, if this individual does commit suicide (which I doubt - and I wonder if it is even a woman) I for one will feel sorry. I do give a shit to use the idiot expression. One of the aspects of being human as opposed to a "dumb animal" is that we do care for others, present or not. If a litter-mate of your family dog died it would affect the family dog probably not at all. Contrast this with how you would feel if your sibling died. Extending this connectedness to non-family and non-friends is a mark of our civilized society.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Tue Feb 12, 2008  at  09:52 AM
This person who wants to end her life supports other people to do it by coming in the news, so i do not feel sorry for a person who promotes suicide!!!

Other people starving to dead, and this person wants attention for this kind of shit...
Posted by JPG  in  Holland  on  Tue Feb 12, 2008  at  11:04 AM
Since Alex has moderated his language on religion and suicide, I would suggest that we confine our discussion to the main point, which is "Is Jane, or Jane's projected suicide, a hoax?"

I say, almost certainly yes. I am inclined to agree with those who think it's a writing exercise of some kind. The writing is really quite polished -- far, far, FAR more polished than you usually find on the Internet. I'd go so far as to say it's professional. Now of course polished and professional writers do commit suicide, but this whole thing just screams "Let's see what happens if I write THIS" to me.
Posted by Kathleen  on  Tue Feb 12, 2008  at  11:48 AM
The way this blog is written is the hand of a writer, who is in the midst of writing a book on suicide.
'Jane' is going to be the character in the novel about suicide.
I think the book will be a new version of VERONICA DECIDES TO DIE. By Paolo Coelhoe.
If it's a better version, that I don't know.
Ofcourse she stays alive as well. She or he is the kind of person who wouldn't want to miss any attention given to her/him/them
Posted by anonymous  on  Tue Feb 12, 2008  at  12:31 PM
The atheist line also caught my eye, and my kneejerk reaction on reading it was that it would be a hoax by a religious person, perhaps in the same vein as those designed to mock religion (e.g. http://www.landoverbaptist.org), but the other way around. The emptiness of the atheist
Posted by JAW  in  PA, USA  on  Tue Feb 12, 2008  at  12:43 PM
Live was given to you by God.
Accept this gift as a way to develop yourself.
That is the meaning of life.
Why throw it away so easy?

When you have killed yourself, you will visit the people who love you or know you in a special way.

You will realise at that moment what you did to them. That's not to punish you, but to feel there pain. It is hard but it will help you.

I don't blame you for your plan or even when you did it.
God will not, so why should i?

With love, mart
Posted by mart  in  holland  on  Tue Feb 12, 2008  at  01:44 PM
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