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.
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.