Rene Barrett, Coral Springs, FL.,
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
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.
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?
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Florida
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
i just chose to do it one day at a time.
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
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
if I can be of any assistance.
Executive Director, American Foundation for Suicide
Prevention, Florida Div.
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
as a better site to visit. we changed the original link at that time per their
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
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.