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News Editor

HTML doesn’t kill people

Feb 10, 20062 mins
Data Center

Am I the only one who finds the notion of “linking” the Internet to specific suicide victims — or groups of victims — absurd?

Here’s a headline from this very Web site: “Internet linked to 91 suicides in Japan last year.”

Now I’m not blaming the messenger — that’s what the story says, so the headline accurately reflects the content.

The story begins: “The number of people in Japan who died through Internet-linked suicides hit a record 91 persons in 2005, Japan’s National Police Agency said. The agency counted a total of 34 cases in which people met others online, often through suicide-related Web sites, and then killed themselves. In 2004 there were 19 cases that led to 55 deaths.”

The suggestion, one supposes, is that absent the Internet these desperate people might still be among us. Or at least it’s that the Internet makes these acts easier.

And the latter is undeniably true. The Internet does make easier the finding of like-minded individuals hellbent on ending it all. Online suicide guides are only a Google away.

But isn’t that breathtakingly obvious? And doesn’t it apply to virtually any human endeavor, good, bad or indifferent? The Internet makes every form of human interaction and knowledge acquisition easier — including all the bad ones.

So why is this even noteworthy anymore, never mind news?

News Editor

In addition to my editing duties, I have written Buzzblog since January, 2006 and wrote the 'Net Buzz column in Network World's dearly departed print edition for 13 years. Feel free to e-mail me at