Suicide Baiting


In February 2010, a young man from a small town near my own, Dylan Yount leapt to his death among cheers from a crowd.  There is no argument that he committed suicide.  There is also no denying that the crowd that watched were chanting “Jump” and “Do It” to the distraught young man.  (For more, see Kathy Yount’s post)

It reminds me of a song, oddly, by Rammstein titled Spring.  Spring is about a man standing on a bridge, thinking about committing suicide.  As he stands undecided, he gathers a crowd.  The crowd begins to cheer him on, they tell him to jump.  (lyrics have been translated into English)

Jump
Redeem me
Jump
Don’t disappoint me
Jump for me
Jump into the light
Jump

The chorus as seen above is telling.  How could a crowd do this to a person?  How could a crowd encourage someone to take their own life?  How have humans become so callous that we have no problems watching someone plummet to their death and not feel at least a little responsible?

Dylan’s decision took an hour according to Kathy Yount & the San Francisco Police Department’s account of events.  An hour!  During that time, people stood on the street, watching, waiting, hoping, encouraging him to jump to his death.  It is no different than the chorus mentioned above.  During that time, he re-entered his apartment and then returned to the ledge.  Did the crowd move on?  Or did they wait, hoping for his return?  Practically begging him to come back out…

The man wants to climb from the bridge
The people begin to hate
They form a dense crowd
And don’t want to let him down
So he climbs back up
And the mob begins to rage
They want his innards
And scream

A verse from Spring.  The man wants off the bridge, but he doesn’t want to throw himself into the brutal waters below.  He wants to go back onto solid land.  Just as Dylan returned to his apartment and then returned to the ledge.  In the song, the man eventually does jump, feeling forced into it by the crowd.  However, we learn that he didn’t intend to commit suicide that day, he only wanted to see the view from the bridge better.  Essentially, the crowd killed Rammstein’s mysterious man.

Dylan needed help.  He may have stepped out on that ledge with thoughts of suicide, but his hour of thought was proof that he didn’t really want to go through with it.  So, who is responsible for his death, Dylan or the crowd?  Is he really so different than the mysterious view seeker from Rammstein’s Spring?  

What the hell is wrong with us?  Why has society decided suicide baiting is ok?  Rammstein’s song is asking these very same questions.  It predates Dylan Yount’s suicide by 5 years… Five whole years!  So 10 year’s ago, Rammstein was aware of suicide baiting and the societal responsibility of it.  This means that Dylan is not an isolated case (Rammstein is a German band with German men).  Society has done it before, more than once.  Dylan is just the victim closest to my home, even though his suicide was in San Francisco.

Why do we treat mental illness like a stigma but we are okay with suicide baiting?

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2 Comments

  1. Thank you, Hadena, for your insight post and your chilling comparison of Dylan’s suicide baiting to Rammstein’s “Spring.” The lyrics in the song parallel exactly what happened to Dylan and are also eerily similar to the six-frame “comic’ that witness TOPTOM2010 made with pictures of Dylan’s death. TOPTOM2010 said the crowd became “antsy,” that the onlookers grew impatient for him to jump. In my research since then, I have discovered that suicide baitings always have this “immediacy” factor so that the victim will act on his or her impulse quickly before more rational thought can occur. We have documented around 100 episodes of suicide baiting listed under “Notes” and arranged by decade at Suicide Baiting Prevention, our Facebook page created to raise awareness and lobby for better police training on the suicide attempt scene. My gratitude for your outrage and poignant question — why, indeed, are we okay with suicide baiting — keep writing!

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  2. Tonight the California Senate passed the assisted suicide bill striking down CA Penal Code that made “assisting, aiding, or encouraging suicide” a felony for 141 years. Here is my latest column about suicide in California. “Assisted suicide bill in Governor Jerry Brown’s hands” at http://ipinionsyndicate.com/assisted-suicide-bill-in-governor-jerry-browns-hands/

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