I was a founding member of the USEnet group in 1989. It was obstensibly to discuss why suicide rates increase around the holidays - but in very short order it became a group dedicated to dark humor. We used to have 'contests' to create new, spectacular suicide methods, shared dark stories - and generally just used the group to give vent to the darker sides of life and ourselves so that we could get through the day without climbing a clock tower with an Uzi.

Over time it also begin drawing people serious about suicide, and it became a help group in a way - but not the happy, shiny stuff. It was people who really knew what you were saying, because they'd been there -or were there too. And just having that understanding got a lot of people through.

Of course, all good things must come to an end - eventually it drew the attention of the 'helpful' crowd who tsk'd and gasped when they saw people discussing suicide and death seriously and not running immediately to sick the 'proper authorities' on people. And now it is more a clone of alt.angst than anything else... I left some years back when I realized I was the last of the originals left, and the group was not longer what it had been.

But having that place to be, a place you could feel understood - and not feel like you were mad or strange - helped me, and a lot of people I know get through some rough times.

I did lose a personal friend, and one of the other early members, when he took his own life a few years back. There are still times I wonder if there was something we (his friends) could have done differently. But you have to keep going, dwelling on such things isn't good for your health.

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