Online Pseuicides

Howard Swains recently reported in Wired on the phenomenon of fake online deaths. He writes:

Many online tales of death and suffering are works of complete fiction, "pseuicides" dressed up as real-life catastrophes. Some are contrived to titillate or garner attention, some result from something more serious, and some are the result of a uniquely modern psychiatric disorder known as Munchausen by internet.


In two investigations between 2007 and 2009, I encountered countless examples of fake deaths in all corners of the online world. A contributor to a knitting forum, for instance, faked her death rather than provide patterns she had been commissioned to design. A member of an online art gallery discovered that the 18-year-old, gay, male, lead-singer of a rock band, with whom she had developed a close friendship before he was killed in a car crash, was actually the work of two 14-year-old girls, who had entirely invented his life. A teenage British boy broke up with his real-life girlfriend to marry a 16-year-old online friend, later discovering (on her "death") that his deceased wife-to-be was a 12-year-old fantasist who had been sending photos of her older cousin and inventing graphic details of incest and rape.

No mention of the Kaycee Nicole Swenson case, which I thought was one of the most famous ones. Perhaps it's because Swains focuses a lot on LiveJournal examples. But overall, an interesting article.

Death Identity/Imposters

Posted on Tue Jun 09, 2009


KNS was also a number of years ago...maybe enough fake deaths didn't occur between her situation & the new "rash" of them to be included in the phenom...or the author didn't know about it. Good luck trying to get in touch though...I hear he's dead. wink
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Tue Jun 09, 2009  at  03:19 PM
I don't know if this counts as fake, but here's a whole hoax Web site of fake suicide photos:
Posted by DCwaterboy  in  Los Angeles  on  Tue Jun 09, 2009  at  05:15 PM
Well, this whole thing is simply-


*falls over dead*


Am I famous now?
Posted by Accipiter  on  Tue Jun 09, 2009  at  05:26 PM
"Muchhausen by internet", I love that LOL
Posted by LaMa  in  Europe  on  Wed Jun 10, 2009  at  04:00 AM
Uh, typoe, make that Munchhausen.... confused
Posted by LaMa  in  Europe  on  Wed Jun 10, 2009  at  04:01 AM
*frowns at Acci*
Posted by Smerk  in  to mischief  on  Wed Jun 10, 2009  at  06:32 AM
Ummm. I did this once. I wondered if I could create a believable on-line persona as a woman. So I started posting extracts from her supposed diary.
And it worked. People started emailing me, wanting to meet me, even offering me work. After a few years I was starting to feel the pressure and running out of creativity. I decided the end had to come when someone was intending to fly across the Atlantic to meet me. So I killed me off.
Actually once you've created an identity like that and lived your life through them, it really hurts to contemplate their death. I used to love the attention, and it was hard giving it up and just being me. I greived for her.
But of course someone had to break the sad news of her death to the fans of my fake lady, so I switched to posting as her best friend.
No, I am not going to tell you who she was or what site I published on.
Posted by BarryBlue  on  Fri Oct 09, 2009  at  04:00 PM
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