Special Assignment: MyDeathSpace

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February 1, 2007

It's life after death.

A new website is giving us instant access to the private lives of those who've passed on. It's called MyDeathSpace.com, and it links its users to the MySpace pages of the deceased.

From suicides to hunting accidents, it's all there.

The date, time and even the manner of your death are all public information. The question is, would you want a total stranger knowing more than that?

Pick up your local newspaper and you'll find an obituary, a published notice of death.

This is much more than that.

"Certainly it would peak some interest and probably a little morbid curiosity," said MCG psychiatrist Dr. Dale Peeples.

The newest craze to hit the MySpace market is MyDeathSpace.com, a site of online obituaries with photos. It links its users to the MySpace pages of the deceased.

16-year-old Danielle Stewart, for example, was killed in a car wreck on Georgia's I-3.

Want to know more?

She was a huge Bulldog fan, and her favorite color was pink.

That may be too much information, Dr. Peeples says.

"It opens a doorway for complete strangers who might not really know the individual to make comments that might not be very sensitive to the family."

We wanted to know what others thought, so we formed a study group of two ASU students: 35-year-old Ruthie Garcia and junior athlete Jamie Quarles.

Jamie doesn't think the site should profit from other's life stories.

"I don't see how someone can live with themselves making a profit off something like this," he said.

Ruthie came across a morbid map of where nearly one thousand deaths have occurred.

"I mean, to see all of the little figures that represent people who have actually passed away...it's sad."

We contacted the founder of MyDeathSpace.com, 25-year-old Mike Patterson in San Francisco. He says, "MyDeathSpace is meant to be a wakeup call or an eye opening experience for teens. They are not invincible."

He also says people believe the site "does serve a purpose and is positive."

Dr. Peeples worries, however, that it paves the way for copycat suicides and murders.

"You might have individuals repeat a similar act in a hope of perhaps gaining similar notoriety or feeling some sort of connection to the individual who was actually involved," he said.

MyDeathSpace.com has 4000 members, and you won't believe the number of visits it gets per day: between 10,000 and 20,000.

The founder says he's had parents contact him to say thanks, and that they use the site as an educational tool.




 
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