Monday, October 10, 2011

The Suicide Prevention Industry Advocates Search Engine Manipulation to Hide Information About Suicide

Why is it so hard to find information about suicide?

A study entitled "Hyperlinked Suicide : Assessing the Prominence and Accessibility of Suicide Websites" (led by a professor hilariously named Sunny Collings) found that, shockingly, search engines get people what they're looking for. When suicidal people search for methods, they find information (albeit poor) about methods - they don't find bullshit. The authors think this is a problem. They say "significant improvements need to be made," which they use as a euphemistic call for creepy search engine censorship:

“One of the big problems with the internet is that pro-suicide sites are often the first thing people see when they search about methods,” says Professor Collings. “In contrast support sites were only 9.3% of total hits, but never featured as the number one search result.”

The study suggests more effort should be made to make support sites more accessible through search engine optimization. Professor Collings says it is totally unsatisfactory to have pro-suicide sites occupying the first 10 search results, rather than information and advice to help prevent suicidal behavior in New Zealand. [Emphasis mine.]

I am pretty scandalized by the fact that they openly call for search engine manipulation - perhaps for companies like Google to get rid of the crowd-sourced model with regard to suicide searches and make anti-suicide sites more "accessible" - you know, the way the Nazis made anti-Jewish propaganda more accessible. It's hard to imagine. But then, traditional media have often gone along with calls to censor suicide stories.

Suicide is sad. But there are things worse than suicide. One of them is miserable, suicidal people being trapped in their bodies with no exit available.

But since "everybody knows" that suicide is bad and needs to be forcibly prevented, study authors can still get away with Orwellian bullshit like this.

Thanks to Rob Sica for pointing me to this!

18 comments:

  1. This "study" surprises me. When experiencing my worst suicidal ideation, it took me hours of searching to find a methods site.

    In any case, Orwellian bullshit aside (and I do agree that this kind of censorship would be reprehensible), do they want people who truly want to end their lives to be able to do so peacefully with minimal risk of "surviving" in some sort of vegetative state - or would they rather desperate people had no resources and guidance, and then die slowly and painfully, or end up lying mute and helpless in a hospital bed for years?!

    Stupid question, I suppose. Clearly they either don't realise that people are going to make attempts anyway, or they just don't give a fuck.

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  2. I suspect they didn't consider the philosophical question very deeply. They probably assumed the politically correct standard meme of "suicidal people are mentally ill, they need to be protected from themselves, or else they will do things that are not in their actual interests".

    Assuming this is true, at least their intentions are noble. Of course, that assumption is incompatible with the empirical fact of people actually making somewhat rational choices in the context of their own preferences and life philosophies, and some of these choices contain suicide as a (crude) instrument to rationally achieve certain goals (such as avoiding suffering, avoiding unequal dependency relations, saving resources for others etc).

    The part that should change in culture is the part where the question of rational suicide isn't even asked properly, and if it is asked at all, it is quickly answered with the standard interpretation backed up by standard rhetoric.

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  3. I don't quite see how "search engine optimization" equals "censorship". SEO ist something that everybody does and which has a lot of very legitimate factors. Forcing search engine companies to somehow change their rating is usually not one of them.

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  4. It's not clear what method the forced life advocates propose to "make support more accessible," but it seems clear that they want people searching for method to not get information about methods. Hard to find a clearer case of censorship than that.

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  5. We just need to read enough of those positive thinking books to shake us out of our morbid worldview. :-)

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  6. I agree with Pandora, I've searched online before for suicide methods, and the first I see are BS Christian sites willing to offer "spiritual death" to be "reborn free" by the grace of Jesus!

    It took finer and lesser obvious keywords for me to actually get to the methods, and even then I end up on forums filled with angsty teens who didn't know any better method than a gun. :(

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  7. "it seems clear that they want people searching for method to not get information about methods."

    Of course, and I certainly don't endorse that, but:

    "Hard to find a clearer case of censorship than that."

    Sorry, I think that's nonsense. "Want" takes play inside their heads and they are 100% entitled to their own oppinion and wishes, even if we think they are stupid and bad. "Censoring", on the other hand, is something that one _does_. Thinking is not doing.
    A "clear case of censorship" would be if e.g. they used lots of money to successfully lobby for legislation which made it illegal to publish information about suicide methods. Removing suicide-notes from dead peoples blogs is censorship. Causing newspapers legalistic trouble for reporting on too many suicides would be censorship.
    It is definitely _not_ censorship if they put proper keywords and descriptions on their anti-suicide-websites and if they place links between them. And that is what one usually means when one talks about SEO.
    Or do You consider it censorship that You linked them with the word "bullshit"? I think not.
    Trying to play the censorship-card just because they want to promote their views by achieving better search engine ratings is overreacting a bit, as long as there are not clues that they want to use any "unfair" methods for it. It should be reserved for the real clear cases.

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  8. If you want a newsgroup discussion that is perfectly safe, google "alt suicide methods hideout". You need to be accepted so fill in why you want to join (just say Alt Suicide Methods/Holiday is full of trolls). Use a newsgroup reader for complete anonymity.

    If you want to purchase Nembutal Pento or want any information google Nembutal topix (on top and several sub links, you'll get there). Remember there are scammers BUT they are some LEGIT people that sell it (high prices). It all depends on customs intercepting it or not. You can build contacts, if you don't want to go this way you can always get the ingredients for hsh sulfide.

    Sister Y, Feel free to delete this post if you feel uncomfortable with the info.

    Goodluck.

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  9. A good sign that this is countercounterculture at work would be presence of the word "glamorize." The biggest voices of the countercouterculture are the news departments of local TV stations. Local TV news tends to demonize the Internet as a whole, but especially as a mediator of other-than-mainstream lifeways. In recent years they have been making teaser stories of the shocking presence of websites that "glamorize" anorexia. They know their own industry is doomed…

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  10. Aren't the pro-ana forums already buried by search engine design? Those chicks fascinate me.

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  11. Re: censorship - I would define censorship as something like content-based regulation of the information people can get, ESPECIALLY if they are actively searching for it.

    What the suicide prevention industry advocates (not commits) here is clearly censorship. It's not taking place inside their heads - they're generating (somewhat snicker-worthy, but still) research and making specific recommendations based on their research. It's way beyond mere "wanting," hence my term "advocating."

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  12. One of them is miserable, suicidal people being trapped in their bodies with no exit available.
    Add to it having "bullshit" thrown at you from search engines. :(

    My "findings" agree with Pandora's too. You get mostly bullshit when you search for suicide methods -- on google.co.in at least.

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  13. On whose internet are the top Google results currently for "pro-suicide sites" with loads of information on methods? Certainly not the one I've been searching this whole time.

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  14. Hm, autoerotic asphyxation seems to have many "accidents". Maybe that's a good suicide method combined with some pleasure at the end.

    Or heroin overdosing. At least that's what I get when I ask for pleasurable death modes on various fora.

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  15. I'm the mum of someone who committed suicide last year. Do you ever think of the pain you leave behind for others when you do this? And you are still living, you talk about it and give advice how to commit suicide but you haven't done it yet, have you? It's easy to talk, some people like my son are more vulnerable, he had aspergers syndrome (autism)
    (look it up!) and followed the instructions to the letter. Think before you speak
    L24

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  16. I'm sorry for your loss. I do think about the pain of survivors quite often - it scares me to think about losing the people I love, and when I think about what my mother, sister, and grandmother are likely to go through when I die, it makes me feel very sad.

    On the other hand, when people decide to commit suicide, it's not because they just decided it would be fun. The kind of pain mixed with meaninglessness that causes people to want to die is devastating and often incurable. For me, living my likely ninety-plus-year natural lifespan is not imaginable. It's completely unthinkable. It's a lot to ask someone to live out a human life - seventy, eighty, ninety years, with suffering and humiliation all through. Some people get cheerful brains and if anything they want MORE LIFE. But that is not the case for all of us.

    When people email me that they want to commit suicide, I listen to them and talk to them honestly. A number of people have said that after talking to me they no longer wanted to commit suicide right away; I think that's often the effect of treating someone as a person and taking their concerns seriously.

    A significant portion of the people I love have autistic spectrum disorders. I like them more than I like most people. But people with "mental illness" have as much right to end their lives as do people who are neurotypical - perhaps more so, since they suffer more.

    I hope that you are able to heal from your tragedy.

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    1. Amazing comment. Thanks!

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