Your life — and death — online

There are so many people spending their lives in front of video cameras — not just on sites like YouTube but on thousands of discussion forums and chat rooms across the Internet — that the surprising thing isn’t how many people choose to die in front of their webcams, it’s how few. Liz Gannes at NewTeeVee has the story of a young man who was talking to other members of a chat-room on a bodybuilding forum and said he had taken an overdose of medication, posted a suicide note and then collapsed on his bed. Several concerned viewers called police, who broke down the door and found the young man, and friends later confirmed that he was dead. A tragic end to a young life, all captured on film. It used to be that killing yourself on camera meant doing it on the evening news — when I was in journalism school, I remember a state official in Pennsylvania putting a gun to his head during a press conference and pulling the trigger, and our class debating whether TV shows should have run the film. Now anyone can have a camera, and broadcast their death to as many people as choose to watch.

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