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Thursday, March 4 12:00 AM ET

Is Technology Killing the Suicide Note?

By Alex Muzzo

Tech-savvy Generation Y could bring an end to another age old tradition – the suicide note. Just as VHS has given way to DVD and Blu-Ray, and compact disks have given way to MP3s, so the suicide note may give way to other, more modern forms of morbid last remarks.

The traditional pen and paper suicide note has been in a steep decline in recent years, according to Digital Technocracy Trends, an independent research group that studies tech trends. David Schuster, a spokesperson for the group, said that “while the paper suicide note may be decreasing, other forms, such as text messaging and podcasts have seen a healthy growth to compensate with the loss of the older media.”

Schuster said that this trend can be traced back to around 2000, when high-speed broadband Internet connections and cellular phones became more commonplace.

Schuster said that, “This is just another form of media that Generation Y is not afraid to put on the chopping block. I think it shows that these kids are truly leading the way in innovation”

Nevertheless, the sharp fall of traditional suicide notes has some experts worried. William Lenard, a college English professor at the University of Illinois, said that, “While digital last words are more convenient, they will never fully replace the look, smell, and feel of physical pen and paper with hysterical, depressed, and often nonsensical stream-of-consciousness ramblings.”

He also noted that in the last few years, he has seen a slew of his students text suicide notes on their cellular phone. “It saddens me to see such disregard for proper grammar when these kids are going to kill themselves.” Professor Lenarski said that, just last week, a student of his texted another student saying: “im going 2 kill mysef. gtg, cruel world wont brb:(."

“It's a travesty the way that these students abuse grammar”.
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Text messaging and podcasts aren't the only way resourceful teens and 20-somethings are leaving their final word. YouTube, the popular video sharing website, has hundreds of “V-Cide Notes”, and Apple's iPhone even has an application that aids in writing and editing suicide notes

Amidst the debates on the pros and cons of e-suicide notes, there's Michelle Brennen, a 17 year old student at Bloom High School. She said that while old fashion suicides notes are “nice” she is following the trend of her peers, stating that “I don't want to leave my last words the way my grandpa did. That way of doing things is as dead as, well, my grandpa.”

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