[size=18pt]Teen suicide may be spreading online[/size]
Researchers at the University of South Florida want to investigate whether online memorials and forums that talk about death encourage teen suicide.
Ilene Berson, an associate professor at the university's Florida Mental Health Institute, said the Internet does not have the kind of censoring newspapers and broadcasters do, where news stories about suicides are sometimes played down for fear of inspiring copycats.
"People say other kids are going to hear about this and they're going to relate with that young person, particularly if everyone is saying all these wonderful things," Berson told the St. Petersburg Times.
Two recent young people left messages on MySpace.com before taking their own lives. Jonathan Link changed his screen name to "Goodbye" while Dylan Meyer, an Army private, wrote a message reminding his friends "not to be sad."
Berson hopes to determine whether MySpace members who kill themselves have been linked to others who do so or express suicidal thoughts. She and her colleagues also want to examine MyDeathSpace, which archives the MySpace pages of the dead.