Sun, Aug 09, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Web surfers rush to stop suicide

‘FAREWELL, MY FRIENDS’A note left by activist and author Hsu Yu-sheng on his Web site prompted friends, readers and politicians to launch efforts to stop him

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF WRITER

After discovering a farewell note left by gay rights activist and writer Hsu Yu-sheng (許佑生) on his blog, Internet users across the country — people who knew him and some who didn’t — launched successful efforts to save Hsu’s life on Friday.

“Someone left a message on my blog on Thursday night informing me that Hsu had posted a farewell not on his own blog,” said Gay and Lesbian Couples Association convener Nelson Chen (陳敬學), a friend of Hsu. “I immediately contacted several friends to discuss what to do and I tried to call Hsu directly.”

At the same time, thousands of Internet users across the country were busy trying to find ways to help Hsu.

Hundreds of people visited Hsu’s blog and left encouraging words, while others passed on the information through the nation’s popular online Bulletin Board System PTT, the social networking service Plurk and instant messenger services.

A number of political figures, including Tainan County Commissioner Su Huan-chih (蘇煥智) and former Democratic Progressive Party legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), joined the effort.

“Whether you know him [Hsu], have read his work, or do not know him like myself, please go ahead and give him some encouragement on his blog, or call him right away if you’re his friend,” Su wrote in a plurk message on Thursday morning. “Spread the word to prevent the irreversible from happening.”

Hsu, who has a doctorate in human sexuality from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco, has written more than 50 books on human sexuality and writes columns on the subject.

Hsu and his American husband, Greg, were the first gay couple in Taiwan to hold a public wedding in 1996.

The apprehensions were sparked by a blog entry titled “Farewell my friends, this is the end” posted by Hsu on Thursday.

In the post, Hsu, who began suffering from depression eight years ago, wrote: “All of a sudden, life is hopeless again.”

Hsu wrote that he made “no more than NT$15,000 [US$458 a month]” — income that he said deprived him of “the last bit of dignity” — and called himself a “failure.”

“Well, I think this is the end, so farewell my dear friends,” he wrote in English. “I am not sure if this time I am still lucky that I will come back again. If [I] don’t, then this is it.”

Hsu finally answered a phone call from Chen at about 1:30am on Friday.

“The first thing Hsu told me when he picked up the phone was ‘I never thought there were still people who care about me,’” Chen said.

Police arrived at Hsu’s place at about 2am and rushed him to hospital.

“Before police arrived, Hsu had swallowed sleeping, anti-­depression, flu, and sedative pills,” Chen said.

“Hsu is safe and his sister is staying with him, but he could try again,” Chen said.

“I urge his friends and people who enjoy his writing to show they care more about him,” Chen said.

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