Pseuicide

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Pseuicide is the term for a fannish phenomenon whereby someone fakes the death of their online persona. The term plays on the term pseudonym and the suffix -cide to indicate killing. a fan may "kill" their main online identity, or sockkpuppet. The phenomenon is part of a wider set of behaviours where someone to fakes an illness or misfortune to get sympathy and attention, which has been dubbed Munchausen by Internet.

Pseuicides play out as a version of the following: the fan, or someone claiming to be a friend or relative posting for them, will announce that X has a disease or has been in an accident. The story can play out over many months, with repeated hospitalizations. It may involve people raising money either instigated by the fan or by their sockkpuppet or even their actual friends to pay for treatment. The other scenario involves the sudden onset of an illness or an accident. At some point an announcement may be made that the fan has died. Sometimes, the fan themselves will post deny everything, and claim their account had been hacked. Or that they did it for the lulz or "social research".

Mass pseuicide

In Supernatural fandom there was a wave of mass pseuicides in late December 2014. This case was rare in that it involved people faking suicide, and there was a number of them at once (at least eight!). As with any good fraud, it had its origins in reality.

Fans do occasionally get anonymous hate posted to their inbox on Tumblr. Some fans found that posting that they had been the subject of anonymous hate would garner them attention and sympathy from caring fans, and so they would pretend they were being attacked. While this was before Jared's Always Keep Fighting campaign, the fandom already was sensitive to mental health issues and were supportive of fans being the target of cyberbullying.

In late 2014, the amount of fans reporting that they were receiving anonymous hate messages increased. Many refused to turn off the feature off the ability for users to post to the their inbox. More fans started posting that they were having anxiety attacks or self harming. Around 26th December 2014, the tag #affectedbyhate was started on Twitter and Tumblr, and a system whereby caring fans could tag their Tumblrs as "Safe Houses" for fans needing support was set up. Concerned fans posted photos of "Family Don’t End with Blood" written on their wrists as a show of support.

Fans started tweeting at cast members and people, especially after the first reported “death” and many responded with messages of love and support including Misha, Kim Rhodes, Jim Beaver, Rob Benedict, Felicia Day.

Here's a summary of the stages of the psuecides from “Tumblr Supernatural Fandom Pseuicides”: A Grumpy Summary by snarp:

1) faking anonymous hate mail against themselves, generally mentioning personal vulnerabilities and urging them to commit suicide in very specific ways,
2) after responding to their enemies for a while to build up the tension, faking suicide due to their intense distress over the anonymous hate,
3) successfully acquiring the attention and followers they wanted during this period and the necessary hospital drama narrated by a nonexistent person,
4) miraculously being resuscitated and/or claiming to have been "hacked" by bad guys, and
5) thus inspiring others to imitate the project.

Over a couple of days there were at least eight reported “suicide” attempts. Even while this was happening some fans who had supposedly died, re-appeared claiming to have been hacked, and yet still it continued. It was difficult for any fans who had thought the “deaths” were fake, and some older fans identified the psueicide phenomenon early on, to speak out without sounding heartless.

It was rumoured that 4chan or 8chan were behind the hate was going to have a concerted attack against Supernatural fans on New Years Eve, encouraging vulnerable fans to kill themselves. However, by then the event had played itself out. Tumblrs were deleted or handles changed. There was no evidence that a chan attack had ever been planned.

There was not much of a backlash from the many fans who had been deceived. Some believed the events had been real and the work of 4chan. Others felt that the fans involved obviously had their own real issues. Also there’s that reaction when any of us is duped, that we feel embarrassed or ashamed and just don’t want to engage any more.

The challenge is that whether its an individual or a group of people, it is a difficult occurrence to identify in a community where people's instinct is to care for each other.

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