Terminal endings — murder and suicide

Murder at Patch

All right boys. Good luck and God bless you.
— Edward Smith, Captain of the Titanic

I have recently written about Patch, a local news outlet owned by AOL; about Mr. Tim Armstrong, the CEO of AOL; about Mr. Abel Lenz, an employee that ran afoul of Mr. Armstrong and got fired on an all-hands call “in front of” 1,000 of his colleagues; about leaks of confidential information at AOL and Patch (of which there appears to be enormous amounts;) and about Mr. Jim Romenesko who, for whatever reasons, seems to be the recipient of many of the leaks and who promptly posts them on his blog (here.)

2163528228_358a676a62_oI won’t go into detail (if you want details you can start with this posting and work your way backwards,) but just say that clearly Patch is in extremis with AOL pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the company and the sales department under-performing by not meeting the sales goals (which incidentally appear to be nowhere near covering the operating expenses of Patch,) and that Mr. Armstrong seems to be cracking under the pressure (Patch was originally co-founded by Mr. Armstrong and “bought into” AOL when Mr. Armstrong got the job as CEO, so, as they say: This one is personal)

According to another leak reported by Mr. Romenesko today (here,) things got markedly worse at Patch this morning, when, on the tail-end of an attempted morale boosting all-hands meeting last week where he iterated AOL’s complete support of Patch, Mr. Armstrong, on a one-way conference call, informed the Patch staff that 40% of them would be joining Mr. Lenz at the lines at the unemployment office:

AOL chief exec Tim Armstrong said in a 9-minute conference call this morning that 40% of the Patch workforce will lose their jobs today. (That’s about 480 people.) No questions were taken during the call.

He said 60% of the Patch sites will continue, 20% of them will partner with other outlets, and 20% will be consolidated or completely closed.

So much for morale boosting and complete support. Given the amount of leaks, which I in an earlier posting compared to those experienced by the Titanic on April 15th, 1912, I am sure there is more than one Patch employee who wishes that Mr. Armstrong would do the honorable thing like Captain Edward Smith.

Suicide in Kansas City

Our decision was made over a considerable period of time and was not
carried out in acute desperation. Nor is it the expression of a
mental illness. We have consciously, rationally, deliberately and
of our own free will taken measures to end our lives today because
of the physical limitations on our quality of life placed upon us
by age, failing vision, osteoporosis, back and painful orthopedic problems.
— Rear Admiral Chester Nimitz Jr. and Mrs. Joan Nimitz

Mr. Romenesko also reported on a suicide by Mr. Martin Manley, a former journalist at Kansas City Star (here)

Suicide is not unusual in the United States. In 2009 there were 36,909 suicides, ten percent more than the number of motor vehicle deaths (33,883).

But Mr. Manley’s suicide was unusual. In fact, it was unusual in many ways. First, Mr. Manley planned his suicide meticulously, and took great care to perform his suicide in a way that would minimize the consequences for all around him. Second, being an excellent journalist, Mr. Manley documented the planning and considerations for the suicide, including the considerations that “drove” him to suicide. Third, from his documentation of the planning and considerations, it is clear that Mr. Manley was entirely sane when he committed suicide and did so as the culmination on a rational process of deliberation.

Mr. Manley documented everything on his web-site with the very apt domain name http://martinmanleylifeanddeath.com/ (here.)

Here are some extracted paragraphs from Mr. Manley’s site. First a few extracted paragraphs discussing the decision to commit suicide:

I began seeing the problems that come with aging some time ago. I was sick of leaving the garage door open overnight. I was sick of forgetting to zip up when I put on my pants. I was sick of forgetting the names of my best friends. I was sick of going downstairs and having no idea why. I was sick of watching a movie, going to my account on IMDB to type up a review and realizing I’ve already seen it and, worse, already written a review! I was sick of having to dig through the trash to find an envelope that was sent to me so I could remember my own address – especially since I lived in the same place for the last nine years!

Not all that long ago I started thinking about what I would leave to this world. Since I figured 90% of my energy, creativity, legacy, etc. was already over, the bigger question became not what else I could do while alive to be remembered, but rather what I could accomplish by being dead.

And then some extracted paragraphs on the mechanics of suicide:

Probably the best drug to take would be Nembutal, which I believed could be purchased in Mexico. The problem was the risk that it would be either watered down or fake. The bigger problem is that you won’t know if it is “good” until you take it. What if it doesn’t kill you?

In my case, I had everything worked out exactly as I wanted it based upon the calendar. I couldn’t take any chances that something would go wrong. Suppose I sent out a couple dozen personalized letters via Fed Ex overnight on August 14th and then I screw up. “False Alarm… Just Kidding!” That doesn’t cut it in my orderly world!

When push came to shove, there really was only one way to go and that was via a firearm. It’s about as certain to work as you can get. Nobody else needs to be involved. It’s immediate, it’s painless and you can control where you do it.

And some paragraphs on how to minimize the impact on the world:

One of the problems with shooting oneself is the obvious mess. I thought about that a lot. I didn’t want anyone I knew discovering my body and I didn’t want to make a mess in the house – something my sister or my landlord would have to deal with. No way.

I also didn’t want anyone discovering my body or witnessing it who wasn’t trained for such a thing. I finally decided the best way to do it would be at 5AM on August 15, 2013 at the far southeast end of the parking lot at the Overland Park Police Station. If everything worked out right – and I’m sure it did, I called 911 at 5AM. I told them “I want to report a suicide at the south end of the parking lot of the Overland Park Police Station at 123rd and Metcalf. Bang.”

I will not say any further about Mr. Manley’s suicide, except that reading his web-site is easily the most gripping and sobering experience that I have had for a long time. Read it yourself and tell me if I am wrong.

If you want to read Mr. Manley’s chronicle, you may want to hurry up, though, because I will bet you dollars to doughnuts that whoever is hosting the site will shut it down very quickly. Then, maybe you don’t have to hurry, for in this world of no original thoughts I will bet another bunch of doughnuts that a bunch of other people have thought of the fact that the site will be torn down, and being infinitely more resourceful than I am, will post mirror sites.

Actually, I take it back. You better hurry up, because I think that most hosting companies will run for hill on this one. I mean, imagine the possible ramifications for such hosting company if just one nutjob thinks that Mr. Manley’s note is some sort of call to arms and follow him down the rabbit hole. After all, the first amendment is no match for liability lawyers working on contingency.

Just for the record… I don’t recommend suicide — and neither did Mr. Manley, I think. I am simply saying that the chronicle by Mr. Manley is remarkable, lucid, and thought-provoking. Three qualities that, of course, are as far away from being the definition of a nutjob.

I am not an expert on the Pulitzer price, but I am convinced that Mr. Manley deserves the Pulitzer price for his 14 months coverage of his own dignified, and, frankly, courageous suicide. Perhaps his work falls within the category of Investigative Journalism. Perhaps it falls within the category of Beat Reporting, Biography or Autobiography, Explanatory Journalism, or General Non-Fiction — I don’t know. But I know this. This is Pulitzer worthy and a must read.

In fact, the only problem I had with Mr. Manley’s dignified chronicle, is that he provides a list of other, notable, I guess, suicides and leaves out the suicide of Rear Admiral Chester Nimitz Jr. and, his wife, Mrs. Joan Nimitz, possibly the most dignified suicide that I had ever read about until today.

Rear Admiral Nimitz, a submarine warrior with an unblemished service record, a three-times recipient of the Silver Star for valor in battle, and the son of United States Navy Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, the Commander in Chief of the United States Pacific Fleet and Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas for United States and Allied air, land, and sea forces during World War II (a really big deal.) Mrs. Nimitz was born in England and practiced as a dentist.

As reported by Mr. Lewis M. Cohen in Slate (here,) Rear Admiral Nimitz and his wife, who were both ailing, committed joint suicide On January 2nd, 2002, after extensive preparations, including the creation of a file box with setting-affairs-in-order documents, neatly labeled “When C.W.N. Dies.”