Suicide as Performance Art

On November 30 of this year, Guelph University undergraduate Dakota Moore logged onto 4chan and announced that he was planning to take his own life while livestreaming it online.    Designed as an English-language image-based bulletin board, 4chan is a favourite site for anonymous online communities and has become notorious for internet pranks and suicide chatrooms.  In Moore's case, his promised suicide attempt drew up to 200 watchers, all encouraging him to go on with the promised "show".  

Under the watchful eye of his audience, "Stephen" (as he had billed himself online) took an overdose of pills, drank vodka, and then used a toaster to set fire to part of his room.   Hiding the toaster under his bed, Moore continued relaying details of his suicide attempt online while the fire spread.    The fans watching the coverage online made no attempt at calling for help or attempting to intervene despite advance warning of his intention.   Many openly supported his action and even urged him on.  

Emergency personnel arrived on the scene and he is currently being treated at a local hospital in Guelph for serious but not life-threatening injuries.   Family and friends refuse to speculate publicly over the reason for his bizarre suicide attempt.     All that authorities have to go on is what he wrote on 4chan just prior to his suicide attempt.   "I thought I would finally give back to the community in the best possible way. I am willing to an hero [commit suicide] on cam for you all.  All that I request is for you guys to link me to a site where I am able to stream for you guys."   The "an hero" reference related to the 2006 suicide of Mitchell Henderson who was later referred to as "an hero" online for killing himself.  The phrase has since taken on a life of its own as a synonym for suicide.

To read more, check out my new Psychology Today post.


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