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a.f.s.p. dialog

last updated 06.07.00
a dialog with rene barrett, executive director of the Florida division of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, about her objection to this site.
05.04.00
Rene Barrett, Coral Springs, FL., 
Dear Sir,
As the executive director of the Florida division of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, I was contacted by the St. Petersburg Times regarding your web cite. Unfortunately, the point I was trying to make with the reporter was not used.  However, it is right on point with regard to your action and I feel a particular responsibility to respond, in light of the Surgeon General's "Call to Acton" to prevent suicide in this country. Dr. Sacher states we are entering a time when suicide, and the disorders most often responsible, will no longer be misunderstood, nor looked upon with the same fear or blame. I didn't think it would be necessary for Dr. Sacher to add "or laughed upon". Further, Dr. Sacher touches on the need for social change with his statement, "Everyone ... shares a responsibility (including you) to help change and eliminate the societal conditions and attitudes that often contribute to suicide ...(emphasis added)".  I suspect you are either dealing with your own fears (in a most unusual way, I might add), or you have not had the unfortunate circumstance of having lost someone close to you. Some things are funny.  "Mixed Nuts" with Steve Martin (about suicide) was funny. Although I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to someone who has lost to suicide, even though I am a suicide survivor myself. You are not Steve Martin and I fail to see the humor in your site. Notswithstanding the fact that it is not funny to most, it has the potential to be detrimental to some. As a "responsible" citizen of the U.S., you too have a responsibility to answer the Surgeon General's Call to Action. I ask for your help in bringing a new level of public awareness to this once hidden problem.  Rene Barrett, Executive Director, AFSP-FL.
we originally responded on the hate mail page:
thank you, rene barrett, for your response to this site. first of all, i am not dealing with any 'fears' in any way. i happen to love life and the ability to look at harsh and sad situations in humorous ways. trust me, my humor does not always touch everyone around me as funny either. humor is in the mind of the beholder. i have received so few complaints in comparison to the hundreds of well wishes about this site. we have posted and you can read, positive comments from suicide touched family members. i have had suicide in my own family, but i see you never read that part or you chose to ignore it. i find it odd that a celebrity like steve martin has received your stamp of "suicide humor approval", yet i get condemned for it. if mr. martin approves of this site, are you going to change your mind about it? as a "responsible" citizen of the u.s., i too have a responsibility to see that my rights to post what may be an offensive website, remain intact. i am bringing a new level of public awareness to the humorous foibles of those that choose to seek room temperature of their own accord off the skyway. those that do not like it, can click out of here in less than a second and we encourage them to do so right from page one.
 

05.05.00

Humor is fine and does have a place as I indicated,  but there's also a responsibility.  There should be something within the scope of what your're doing that expresses a discouragement from attempting suicide.  Hitting that water at 75 miles per hour is simply not worth it.

Being a responsible citizen asserting first amendright rights presumes a resonsible citizenry that would not use those rights to cause harm to others.  It's an essential principle for a free society that responsible freedom is a presumption.  There are many things that we can do that are legal; that doesn't make them right, moral or ethical.  We can't legislate good conscience or conscientious behavior. 
Whatever happened in your family, this is not a healthy way to deal with that issue.  How about working with us to set up a support gorup in your area for  those people like yourself who have experienced loss?  How about putting your site in a more positive context?  Your site provides only a passive availability of links, but does not actively encourage those who need to seek help.   Further, some of your readers who support your site indicate  ,,,if they want to jump, let them.  I don't think they can imagine the feelings of loss that suicide brings to the lives of hundreds of thousands of family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors annually.  Often accompanied by mental illness, it can pass from one generation to the next, leaving behind a legacy of stigma, shame, blame, and grief.  Since you have such a strong interest in this subject and have experienced a loss in your own family, how about joining forces with us? 

Sincerely,
Rene Barrett
Executive Director
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Florida Div.



05.08.00

hello rene barrett,
   you mention my responsibility several times. my website has never sent anyone to the bridge to jump. there has been one documented jumper that has been to my site, but she had also made several attempts at suicide in the past. if she picked the bridge after reading my site, then it was her choosing. had there been no "jumperpool", she would have found the bridge or another way to do herself in, as that is what she wanted. she no longer wanted to live and that was her right, regardless of how we feel about it or how many hurting family members are left behind, like it or not. had she contacted me before jumping, you can bet that i would have spent as much time as she would have allowed, for me to try and get her help. at no time would i ever want someone to jump. if someone contacts me beforehand, i will do what i can to help. i'm not a monster. i feel that by the time a person is up on that bridge, standing there about to jump, they are well beyond help. as far as i know, so far, only one person has used those crisis phones.
   our site actively pleads for those in need of help to get help. we demand that they do it. i honestly feel that if a person is hurting so much, that they would take their own life, then who are we to stop them? it's their right, no matter how screwed up their head may be. i also believe that at times, it is a great relief to a family, that a troubled family member end the misery of not only the suicidal person, but the family that has tried everything and failed. just get it over with and end everyone's misery. 
   i will work more help features into my site in the near future.

i am committing suicide myself,
i just chose to do it one day at a time.


05.14.00
First of all, why aren't you putting this exchange on the web? Maybe some of your readers would like to join the discussion.
You contradict yourself in saying that your website "has never sent anyone to the bridge to jump" and then citing an example. You are very presumptuous in assuming that she would have found the bridge anyway. While it is true that you are not responsible for the behavior of others, you are responsible for the influence that you choose to create. In that way, you are associated with that woman's death and have moral and ethical responsibility.
No I don't think that you are a monster or want to be. I do think that you are being very foolish, dangerous and self-justifying. You either understand the implications of what you are doing and ought to take responsibility, or you don't, and ought to stop and think. I would like to see your site offer the kind of help and emphasis for prevention that you would offer if asked.
A person who is "so screwed up in the head" is in no condition to make life or death decisions for themselves, or for others.

Your solution of discarding or allowing troubled people to discard themselves is sick. What a sad commentary on the quality of "family" when they feel relief that a troubled loved one has had to resort to taking their own life. I hope that in times of trouble, you are not put to the test of seeking the love and support that you may need. You might just get no more than you suggest here: the opportunity to relieve your family of a burden.

That feeling of relief for a loved one who has found rest is a natural one. Unfortunately, it is not that simple. There is still a loss; a failure to survive. Families do suffer in the long-run. Your website and attitude may just be an expression of your own loss and fears. Re-read the end of your own note below. I would suggest that you get some help. Please let me know
if I can be of any assistance.

Sincerely,
Rene Barrett
Executive Director, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Florida Div.


05.14.00
   i had not put our dialog on the web, as i didn't feel our dialog was something others should or want to read. at your request, i give everyone the option to do so.
   i defend my position that my website "has never sent anyone to the bridge to jump". the jumper that started all this, ms. davis, was well aware of the bridge and it's reputation long before there ever was this jumperpool site. there was no presumptuousness on my part, as she apparently had a fascination with the bridge. i contend that this site had no influence in her eventual demise, as that was her choice to take her own life. she had tried several times before and apparently thought the bridge would do for her what other methods failed to do for her in the past. to boldly declare that
"you are associated with that woman's death and have moral and ethical responsibility" is way out of line and i disregard that statement as irresponsibility on your part. i take zero responsibility for ms. davis' death. it was her doing only and i had no prior knowledge of her obvious mental deficiency nor her desires to end the pain she had within herself. obviously, the bridge drew her to it as it has drawn so many before her and will draw others to it in the future. 
   you declare,
"I do think that you are being very foolish, dangerous and self-justifying. You either understand the implications of what you are doing and ought to take responsibility, or you don't, and ought to stop and think". i fully know what i am doing. i have created a website that lampoons the folly of those that wish to end their lives by leaping from a bridge. if anything, this site should ridicule any and all would be jumpers to perhaps try and get help or pick a method of death that no one has yet to lampoon on a website. just how much anti-suicide rhetoric should i include to try and get through to would be jumpers? my website is offered as humor. if i get too soft and mushy with these jumpers, no one would think it was a fun site to visit and i doubt the site would offer any help to someone so determined to end it. your site, a.f.s.p., is very well done and i have included a link to your site from the very first draft of my website. i can only hope that a would be jumper goes there and avoids becoming the means of creating a "jumperpool winner". there are several links to your site within my site. if a potential jumper would ever contact me seeking help, you can be sure i would contact you personally and make every effort to intervene. (we were asked by the afsp in an e-mail dated 06.08.00 to not direct potential bridge jumpers to their site. they recommended the suicidology.org as a better site to visit. we changed the original link at that time per their request.)
   i never offered the bridge or this pool as a "solution of discarding" themselves and to attempt to persuade others to believe i have, is wrong on your part. i will not be held responsible for the actions and deeds of anyone that wants to end their own life. 
   please point out to me the part of my site where you get the idea that 'i' suggested that doing yourself in would give anyone
"the opportunity to relieve your family of a burden". if you got that from comments sent to me, then those are not my words or my thoughts. you seem to forget that this site is for adult humorous purposes only and input from the jumperpool patrons are not necessarily the thoughts or opinions of myself. (a statement we made in the letter dated 05.08.00 to ms. barrett "i also believe that at times, it is a great relief to a family, that a troubled family member end the misery of not only the suicidal person, but the family that has tried everything and failed. just get it over with and end everyone's misery" is apparently where she got the idea i am suggesting suicide as a "solution of discarding or allowing troubled people to discard themselves". my intention was simply that, at times, i truly believe that suicide is a viable way out for some individuals. if in fact they are so mentally or physically ill beyond toleration, i firmly believe it is everyone's right to choose their lifes' end.)
   you said,
"Your web site and attitude may just be an expression of your own loss and fears. Re-read the end of your own note below. I would suggest that you get some help. Please let me know if I can be of any assistance". i ended my last letter to you with "i am committing suicide myself, i just chose to do it one day at a time". that was a direct quote from one of the radio interviewers that i spoke with. i had heard that line several times before in my life and always thought it was a funny line, as simply living life always ends in death. so as such, living is self-destructive. as the late jim morrison said, "no one gets out of here alive". i do not feel suicidal, however, if that ever changes, i will give you a call.
   in closing, nothing would please me more than for you to be out of a job due to a lack of need. nothing personal, but that should also be your goal, to be out of work because your work was done and there were no more suicides, ever. that, of course, will never happen. as this world, so full of promise, is also a world of pain and suffering. there will always be those suicidal souls and there is nothing anyone can do to help many of them. i will never be able to prove it, but i would venture that my website can and will prevent a suicide from the bridge, simply by the way i have it set up. they won't jump because they won't want to be a pawn in a silly pool.
thank you for your concern.
 

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