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Friday, September 24, 2010 

Scum-watch: How a Sun investigation works.

The Sun has, predictably, followed up yesterday's dubious article on the suicide pact between Steve Lumb and Joanne Lee with if anything an even more sensational story, claiming that Lee was "goaded" and "preyed" upon by a sinister Dr. Death figure. As yesterday, through using exactly the same sources as the Sun has relied upon for its story, it can be shown that this is also at best a massive exaggeration of his role and at worst an outright fabrication. It also shows exactly how a couple of details can be seized upon and sexed up, as well as how dangerous and lazy the Sun's journalism in the aftermath of this case has been.

(The same cautions as discussed in yesterday's post apply equally if not more so here.)

Some of the details the Sun provides about this "Dr. Death", or Dr. Kiriyu, as he styles himself, are accurate. His Google Groups profile does record 368 posts made since last April, and he did post on the death of a former US Marine, Sherry Pike, who killed herself at the beginning of the month. Almost everything else in the article about him is either conjecture or ascribing motives to his actions purely for sensational effect, as if they weren't potentially sensational enough on their own.

Also accurate is that he did respond to Lee's second post seeking a pact. Whether he uses the x-no archive: yes tag or not is unclear, but some of his messages have been either removed from the archive or not been mirrored, at least on Google Groups, one of which is the post he made on Lee's pact thread. His post was however quoted, and also shows in his profile. He also posted in another of Lee's threads, one asking for advice on where to carry out her suicide, although this one has also gone missing and was not quoted, making it impossible to know what was said. While it's possible that Lee did respond to his posts, with them also not being mirrored, or could well have responded to him personally via email, there are no posts in the Google archive at least of her doing so. Furthermore, Lee's first post asking about her method of suicide was on the 22nd of August, where she was directed to a different post by Kiriyu by another poster. She went on to make a number of separate threads detailing her plans, none of which were responded to by Kiriyu at least based on the Google archive. As made clear yesterday, a better case could be made that Lee was "egged on" than it could be for Lumb, as she was both responded to by trolls and had a series of conversations with a poster called "ttestimony", which included instructions and advice. The claims however that "Dr. Kiriyu" personally either goaded or preyed upon Joanne Lee are highly dubious and unproven.

In a sign of just how much time was spent by the by-lined hacks on their "investigation", the following quotes the paper used can be incredibly easily found:

His is a glowering presence on forums used by depressed people - who were last night enraged at his vile "hobby". One user branded him "no better than a murderer" - with "zero regard for human life". Another raged: "I'm not the first nor only person to suggest that he gets off on people dying by H2S. Yes, I mean sexually."

Search Google for Dr. Kiriyu and the thread these comments were made in is the very first result. The @ poster in that thread also made similar remarks in a thread on the death of Sherry Pike, which were also lifted by the Sun, not all of which were directly attributed. Play spot the difference:

Yes, that is what a few of us have been trying to say, Carl, about a handful of people here, not just "Dr.Kiriyu". Some people here appear to thrive on the suicide deaths of others. They appear love it. They appear to have a fetish for it. Dr.Kiriyu bombarded Ex US Marine Sherry Pike (trixiepie66) with suicide methods and advice, then he watched the Internet news websites and came back to ASH and ASM and reported her death. In the same report thathe posted of her death, he also included his usual list of H2S and hanging suicide methods. How classy . The dude ("Dr.Kiriyu") appears to be intensely ill.

Gulf War veteran Sherry Pike was said to have been bombarded with "advice" from him.

He gleefully "announced" her death on a web group alongside a series of instructions on how others could use his deadly method. One horrified forum user wrote: "He watched the internet news websites and came back and reported her death.

"In the same report that he posted of her death, he also included his usual list of H2S and hanging suicide methods.

"The dude appears to be intensely ill."

Despite not reporting "Dr Death's" real name, supposedly as not to publicise it, the paper has more or less done everything but, as those on alt.suicide.methods have themselves noted. Just as dangerous, if not more so, is spelling out exactly how Kiriyu has advertised his method, calling it detergent suicide. A quick Google search for that term and within a few clicks you can be at Kiriyu's page, none of which I'm going to link to in this instance. For a newspaper which was demanding censorship yesterday in order to save lives, this seems to be a remarkably careless and hypocritical way to go about keeping the tragic story going.

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The poster "@" is actually one Patrick Michael Sullivan of Nanaimo in Canada. Sullivan is a bankrupt and a known defamation spammer, whose past cyber stalking and internet libel spamming in the suicide groups netted him a bill for damages of nearly $180,000. Sullivan was heavily criticized by the judge, saying that Sullivan was "indifferent to the truth of the statements he was making" and "reckless with the truth" See the case's Reasons For Judgment at

It's very interesting to see The Sun uses a character like this as their source.

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