Man left his family and started a new one using a dead man’s identity

By Peter Holley

For more than two decades, Terry Jude Symansky appeared to lead an ordinary life in Pasco County, Fla.

He had a wife and a teenage son, owned property, and “worked odd jobs,” according to the Tampa Bay Times.

The only problem, police say, was that Terry Jude Symansky was not really Terry Jude Symansky. He was actually an Indiana man named Richard Hoagland who vanished 25 years ago and has been considered dead since 2003, the paper reported.

The lie lasted more than two decades. In the end, a single online search was all it took for the ruse to unravel.

The truth began to surface when a nephew of the real Terry Symansky — who drowned in 1991 at age 33 — started an Ancestry.com family search, according to ABC affiliate WFLA. Knowing that his uncle was dead, the nephew was surprised to find someone with the same name living in central Florida.

“He looks up his real uncle Terry Symansky and realizes that he died in 1991, which the family knew,” Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco told the station. “He then starts scrolling down the page and sees more details that Terry Symanksy was remarried in 1995. He owns property in Pasco County, Florida.”

Fearing that their fake relative might try to harm them, family members waited three years before eventually contacting authorities in April, police told the Tampa Bay Times.

Hoagland, 63, was arrested Wednesday and charged with fraudulent use of personal identification, the paper reported.

How exactly Hoagland came to assume the identity of Terry Symansky — who moved to Florida from Cleveland to work as a commercial fisherman — remains a complicated mystery.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that investigators suspect it occurred as follows:

Deputies think Hoagland stole Terry Symansky’s identity like this: Hoagland once lived with Terry Symansky’s father in Palm Beach. Hoagland found a copy of Terry Symansky’s 1991 death certificate and used it to obtain a birth certificate from Ohio. With the birth certificate in hand, he then applied by mail for an Alabama driver’s license and used that to obtain a Florida driver’s license. That’s how deputies think Hoagland came to spend more than two decades living in Florida as Terry Symansky.

As Terry Symansky, he married Mary Hossler Hickman in 1995. The couple lived in Zephyrhills. He also fashioned a medical card to obtain a private pilot’s license as Terry Symansky from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Before he began the process of assuming a new identity, Hoagland left his old life — which included a wife and four children — behind in Indiana, according to Bay News 9. His former wife in Indiana told police that Hoagland had three businesses related to insurance.

She told investigators that Hoagland told her in the early 1990s that he was wanted by the FBI for embezzling millions of dollars and had no choice but to leave town, according to the Tampa Bay Times. In reality, police told the paper, Hoagland told investigators that he left Indiana to get away from his wife.

Eventually, the paper reported, Hoagland’s wife assumed her husband was dead.

“This is a selfish coward,” Nocco said. “This is a person who has lived his life destroying others.”

Gerry Beyer, a law professor at Texas Tech University who studies identity theft, told the Tampa Bay Times that Hoagland’s alleged actions are unusual because most identity thieves steal people’s names to commit crimes.

He told the paper that the fact that the real Symansky never married or had children made him a “perfect” candidate for identity theft.

Yet, he noted, Hoagland’s ability to maintain the lie for more than two decades was shocking. It was a lie that was probably made easier, Beyer said, because it began before digital records were commonplace.

“You just never know,” Beyer told the paper. “It will all catch up with you.”

Hoagland’s Florida tenants told Bay News 9 that they were shocked that their landlord was not who he said he was.

“We’ve been personal with him quite a bit, and Terry’s the nicest guy anyone could ever meet,” Gregory Yates told the station.

“He’s a really nice guy, and he’s a really good landlord,” Dean Lockwood, another tenant, said. “Never would have known this, couldn’t imagine this was happening.”

Perhaps most damaged by Hoagland’s hoax, police said, was his wife in Florida, who learned about her husband’s alleged crimes only when detectives showed up at her door last week.

“For 20 years, she’s been lied to, so now she doesn’t know what she has to do as far as whether her marriage is even legal — what’s going to happen to all the properties they own, their bank accounts,” Detective Anthony Cardillo told Bay News 9. “The son has the last name Symansky.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/07/24/he-left-his-family-then-he-started-a-new-one-using-a-dead-mans-identity-police-say/?tid=pm_national_pop_b

Deputy fires “1 in a billion” shot into suspect’s gun barrel

Arapahoe County prosecutors on Wednesday, July 13, cleared a Jefferson County sheriff’s deputy in an off-duty shooting stemming from an attempted robbery in January.

Deputy Jose Marquez was shot in the shoulder and abdomen during the Jan. 26 attempted robbery in an apartment parking lot on East Adriatic Drive near Rangeview High School.

One of the suspects fled the scene and has not been identified. The other, Jhalil Meshesha, was wounded in the leg and later arrested, prosecutors said.

In a letter to Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader and Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz, Arapahoe County Deputy District Attorney Rich Orman said Marquez, who was off duty and not in uniform at the time of the robbery, acted appropriately.

“Deputy Marquez reasonably believed that his life was in danger and acted reasonably in shooting Meshesha, and that he used an appropriate level of physical force. I further find that Deputy Marquez’s actions were justified and he did not violate Colorado law,” the letter said.

Marquez told police he was visiting his girlfriend at her apartment when he went outside to grab something from his car. As he walked back, he saw two young men with masks on their face. One of the men told him to “give it up,” Marquez said, and pulled out a pistol.

Marquez said the two men fired first and he returned fire.


One of Marquez’s bullets struck Meshesha’s pistol, traveling straight down that gun’s barrel and disabling it. Police called the shot “one in a billion.”

http://www.aurorasentinel.com/news/jeffco-deputy-cleared-aurora-shooting/

CDC Reports 24% Increase in US Suicide Rates

by Tori Rodriguez, MA, LPC

Although there was a consistent reduction in US suicide rates from 1986 through 1999, the trend appears to have reversed during the most recent investigation period. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1) reveals that suicide rates increased by 24% from 1999 to 2014, with the greatest increase observed in the latter half of that period.

The increase occurred among males and females in all age groups from 10-74. While rates for males still exceed those for females, the gap began to narrow during the most recent period. Among females, the rate increase was almost triple that of males: 45% vs 16%.

While the highest suicide rate was observed among men aged 75 and older, there was a reduction of 8% in this group from the previous report. There was a 43% increase among males in the 45-64 age group, making it the group with the greatest rate increase and the second-highest suicide rate among males. The second highest increase (37%) occurred among males aged 10–14, although this group had the lowest rate among all of the age groups.

As with males, the suicide rate also decreased among females in the 75 and over group, by 11%. The steepest increase (200%) occurred among females aged 10-14, though the actual number of suicides in this age group was relatively small (150 in 2014). The females with the highest suicide rates comprised the 45-64 age group, which had the second greatest increase (63%) since the previous period. For females in the age groups of 15-24, 25-44, and 65-74, rate increases ranged from 31% to 53%.

The most common cause of suicide in females was poisoning, which accounted for 34.1% of cases, while the use of firearms accounted for more than half of male suicides (55.4%). Cases involving some form of suffocation–including hanging and strangulation–increased among both males and females.

Though the report does not provide possible explanations for these trends, other recent findings offer clues about a host of variables that could be influencing rates in the middle age brackets in particular, with especially strong support for economic issues as a potential influence. A study published in 2015 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, for example, found that economic and legal problems disproportionately affected adults aged 40-64 who had committed suicide (2). Research reported in 2014 showed a robust link between suicide rates and unemployment rates in adults in middle-aged adults but not other age groups, and according to a 2011 CDC study, suicide rates increased during periods of economic recession and declined during economic growth among people aged 25-64 years (3,4).

A co-author of the 2014 and 2015 studies, Julie A. Phillips, PhD, of the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research at Rutgers University, has received a grant from the American Foundation of Suicide to investigate the numerous variables that could be influencing the trend in middle-aged adults.

Additionally, a randomized controlled trial published in 2016 in PLoS Medicine found promising results with a brief, low-cost treatment designed to address the main risk factor for suicide: previous attempts (5).

An approach called the Attempted Suicide Short Intervention Program (ASSIP) was shown to reduce subsequent attempts by 80% among patients admitted to the emergency department after a suicide attempt.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and visit online at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

References

1. Curtin SC, Warner M, Hedegaard H. Increase in suicide in the United States, 1999–2014. NCHS data brief, no 241. 2016; Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.

2. Hempstead KA, Phillips JA. Rising suicide among adults aged 40-64 years: the role of job and financial circumstances. Am J Prev Med. 2015; 48(5):491-500.

3. Phillips JA, Nugent CN. Suicide and the Great Recession of 2007-2009: the role of economic factors in the 50 U.S. states. Social Science & Medicine. 2014; 116:22-31.

4. Luo F, Florence CS, Quispe-Agnoli M, et al. Impact of business cycles on US suicide rates, 1928-2007. Am J Public Health. 2011; 101(6):1139-46.

5. Gysin-Maillart A, Schwab S, Soravia L, Megert M, Michel K. A novel brief therapy for patients who attempt suicide: A 24-months follow-up randomized controlled study of the Attempted Suicide Short Intervention Program (ASSIP). PLoS Medicine. 2016; 13(3): e1001968.

http://www.psychiatryadvisor.com/suicide-and-self-harm/increase-in-suicide-rates-in-united-states-cdc/article/492762/?DCMP=EMC-PA_Update_RD&cpn=psych_md,psych_all&hmSubId=&hmEmail=5JIkN8Id_eWz7RlW__D9F5p_RUD7HzdI0&NID=1710903786&dl=0&spMailingID=14943637&spUserID=MTQ4MTYyNjcyNzk2S0&spJobID=820858811&spReportId=ODIwODU4ODExS0

Childhood Trauma, Not Impulsivity, Linked With Suicide Attempts

by Tori Rodriguez, MA, LPC

While the top risk factor for completed suicide is a history of previous attempts, childhood trauma and impulsivity have also been found to increase the risk of suicidality in adults (1,2). However, there have been few investigations into whether these 2 variables influence each other in their association with suicidal ideation and attempts.

Prior research has linked childhood trauma with increased frequency of a range of psychiatric disorders, such as depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, panic disorder, and substance abuse.1 Additionally, a correlation between impulsivity and risky behaviors — including suicidality — has been found, and research published in 2014 discovered higher levels of impulsivity among patients with a self-reported history of at least 1 suicide attempt, compared to those with no reported previous attempts (3).

“People with histories of childhood trauma often develop difficulties with managing negative emotion, coping with stress, and maintaining optimism in the face of life stressors,” Lisa Cohen, PhD, a professor of psychiatry at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York, told Psychiatry Advisor. “Impulsivity is a risk factor for all types of reckless behavior, including suicidal behavior,” she added.

Dr Cohen and others, including lead author Laura DeRubeis, a doctoral student at Adelphi University in New York, recently sought to determine whether impulsivity mediates the relationship between childhood trauma and suicidality in a sample of 113 adult inpatients (4). They hypothesized that after impulsivity was controlled for, childhood trauma would no longer predict suicidality at a statistically significant level.

As part of a larger investigation, participants were administered several questionnaires: the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ), a Likert-type scale that measures emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, as well as emotional and physical neglect; the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11) and the Behavioral Activation Scale (BAS) of the Behavioral Inhibition and Activation Scales (collectively known as BIS/BAS, not to be confused with the BIS-11); and select items from the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS) to assess ideation and attempts.

According to the results, which were presented at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric (APA) in Atlanta, Georgia, both childhood trauma and impulsivity had independent effects on suicidal ideation. However, childhood trauma was found to have an independent association with suicide attempts, while impulsivity was not. “We expected childhood trauma to influence suicidal ideation and attempts through a pathway of impulsivity, so that trauma leads to impulsivity which then leads to suicidal ideation and attempts,” explains Dr Cohen. Instead, they found that impulsivity was only related to suicidal ideation, and when childhood trauma was controlled for, impulsivity no longer predicted attempts.

Though these findings are in line with previous data on the correlation between childhood trauma, impulsivity, and suicidal ideation, they contradict the hypothesis of the current study as well as results of other studies suggesting that impulsivity is a risk factor for suicide attempts. “Childhood trauma seems to have a potent independent effect on both suicidal ideation and suicidal attempts,” the authors concluded in their paper.

References

1. O’Brien BS, Sher L. Child sexual abuse and the pathophysiology of suicide in adolescents and adults. Int J Adolesc Med Health. 2013;25(3):201-205.

2. Wedig MM, Silverman MH, Frankenburg FR, Reich DB, Fitzmaurice G, Zanarini MC. Predictors of suicide attempts in patients with borderline personality disorder over 16 years of prospective follow-up. Psychol Med. 2012;42(11):2395-2404.

3. Mccullumsmith CB, Williamson DJ, May RS, A, Bruer EH, Sheehan DV, Alphs LD. Simple measures of hopelessness and impulsivity are associated with acute suicidal ideation and attempts in patients in psychiatric crisis. Innov Clin Neurosci. 2014;11(9-10): 47-53.

4. DeRubeis L, Kim KHS, Ardalan F, Tanis T, Galynker I, Cohen L. The relationship between childhood trauma, impulsivity, and suicidality in an inpatient sample. Poster presentation at: 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association; May 14-18, 2016; Atlanta, GA. Young Investigators’ New Research 1–017.

http://www.psychiatryadvisor.com/apa-2016-coverage/apa-2016-research-found-impulsivity-without-childhood-trauma-did-not-predict-suicide-attempts/article/497331/

Thieves using computers to hack ignition to steal cars

By JEFF BENNETT

Police and car insurers say thieves are using laptop computers to hack into late-model cars’ electronic ignitions to steal the vehicles, raising alarms about the auto industry’s greater use of computer controls.

The discovery follows a recent incident in Houston in which a pair of car thieves were caught on camera using a laptop to start a 2010 Jeep Wrangler and steal it from the owner’s driveway. Police say the same method may have been used in the theft of four other late-model Wranglers and Cherokees in the city. None of the vehicles has been recovered.

“If you are going to hot-wire a car, you don’t bring along a laptop,” said Senior Officer James Woods, who has spent 23 years in the Houston Police Department’s auto antitheft unit. “We don’t know what he is exactly doing with the laptop, but my guess is he is tapping into the car’s computer and marrying it with a key he may already have with him so he can start the car.”

The National Insurance Crime Bureau, an insurance-industry group that tracks car thefts across the U.S., said it recently has begun to see police reports that tie thefts of newer-model cars to what it calls “mystery” electronic devices.

“We think it is becoming the new way of stealing cars,” said NICB Vice President Roger Morris. “The public, law enforcement and the manufacturers need to be aware.”

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said it “takes the safety and security of its customers seriously and incorporates security features in its vehicles that help to reduce the risk of unauthorized and unlawful access to vehicle systems and wireless communications.”

On Wednesday, a Fiat Chrysler official said he believes the Houston thieves “are using dealer tools to marry another key fob to the car.”

Titus Melnyk, the auto maker’s senior manager of security architecture for North America, said an individual with access to a dealer website may have sold the information to a thief. The thief will enter the vehicle identification number on the site and receive a code. The code is entered into the car’s computer triggering the acceptance of the new key.

The recent reports highlight the vulnerabilities created as cars become more computerized and advanced technology finds its way into more vehicles. Fiat Chrysler, General Motors Co. and Tesla Motors Inc. have had to alter their car electronics over the last two years after learning their vehicles could be hacked.

Fiat Chrysler last year recalled 1.4 million vehicles to close a software loophole that allowed two hackers to remotely access a 2014 Jeep Cherokee and take control of the vehicle’s engine, air conditioning, radio and windshield wipers.

Startups and auto-parts makers also are getting involved in cyberprotections for cars.

“In an era where we call our cars computers on wheels, it becomes more and more difficult to stop hacking,” said Yoni Heilbronn, vice president of marketing for Israel-based Argus Cyber Security Ltd., a company developing technologies to stop or detect hackers. “What we now need is multiple layers of protection to make the efforts of carrying out a cyberattack very costly and deter hackers from spending the time and effort.”

San Francisco-based Voyomotive LLC is developing a mobile application that when used with a relay switch installed on the car’s engine can prevent hackers with their own electronic key from starting a vehicle. Its technology also will repeatedly relock a car’s doors if they are accessed by a hacker.

This month, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx is slated to attend an inaugural global automotive cybersecurity summit in Detroit. General Motors Co. Chief Executive Mary Barra and other industry executives are scheduled to speak.

Automotive industry trade groups are working on a blueprint of best practices for safely introducing new technologies. The Auto-Information Sharing and Analysis Center, created by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Global Automakers Association, provides a way to share information on cyberthreats and incorporate cybercrime prevention technologies.

In the Houston car theft, a home-security camera captures a man walking to the Jeep and opening the hood. Officer Woods said he suspects the man is cutting the alarm. About 10 minutes later, after a car door is jimmied open, another man enters the Jeep, works on the laptop and then backs the car out of the driveway.

“We still haven’t received any tips,” the officer said.

The thief, says the NICB’s Mr. Morris, likely used the laptop to manipulate the car’s computer to recognize a signal sent from an electronic key the thief then used to turn on the ignition. The computer reads the signal and allows the key to turn.

“We have no idea how many cars have been broken into using this method,” Mr. Morris said. “We think it is minuscule in the overall car thefts but it does show these hackers will do anything to stay one step ahead.”

http://www.wsj.com/articles/thieves-go-high-tech-to-steal-cars-1467744606

Rancher lassos bike thief outside Oregon Wal-Mart

A rancher jumped on his horse Friday morning and lassoed a man who was trying to steal a bicycle in the parking lot of an Oregon Wal-Mart, police said.

Robert Borba was at the Eagle Point store loading dog food and a camping tent into his truck when he heard a woman screaming that someone was trying to steal her bike, the Medford Mail Tribune reports (http://goo.gl/L5PTLm).

The 28-year-old said he quickly got his horse, Long John, out of its trailer. He grabbed a rope, rode over to the man who was reportedly struggling with the bike gears and attempting to flee on foot. Borba lassoed the man around the legs and when he dropped, Borba dragged him to one end of the parking lot.

“I seen this fella trying to get up to speed on a bicycle,” Borba told the Tribune. “I wasn’t going to catch him on foot. I just don’t run very fast.”

Borba said the man tried to grab a tree and get away, but he kept the rope tight and the man in place.

“I use a rope every day, that’s how I make my living,” Borba said. “If it catches cattle pretty good, it catches a bandit pretty good.”

Eagle Point police Sgt. Darin May said officers arrived and found the lassoed man and bike on the ground in the parking lot.

“We’ve never had anyone lassoed and held until we got there,” May said. “That’s a first for me.”

Police arrested Victorino Arellano-Sanchez, whom they described as a transient from the Seattle area, on a theft charge.

Arellano-Sanchez is jailed in Jackson County. Staff members at the jail say they don’t think he has an attorney.

http://bigstory.ap.org/bd911de9190d4ec7b03d855312b04e39

French teenager broadcasts her suicide on Periscope

by Erin Zaleski

A young French woman broadcast her last moments in a haunting livestream video.

More than 1,000 people are believed to have watched the young woman kill herself.

They watched her calmly discuss her decision to die, just as they watched her slip on her sneakers before heading to a nearby station and throwing herself in front of an oncoming suburban RER C train.

No one watching was able to approach the platform, or yell for her to stop, or to do anything else that may have prevented her from carrying out her desperate act, because no one could. The hundreds of people who witnessed her last moments watched the drama unfold behind their phone screens.

At the Egly train station south of Paris on Tuesday, a French teenager broadcast her suicide on Periscope, a smartphone app that allows users to stream live videos. The video has reportedly been removed from Periscope, but footage of the minutes leading up to her death has been posted on YouTube.

While suicide, and even public suicide, is nothing new, the age of social media makes such acts of despair accessible in a way they have never been previously. Indeed, Tuesday’s tragedy near Paris is not the first time a young person has broadcast a suicide on social media. In 2010, a 21-year-old Swedish man hanged himself on a live webcam broadcast. And a young woman in Shanghai documented the events leading up to her suicide on Instagram in 2014, uploading a series of disturbing images, including one in which her legs are dangling out of the window of a high-rise apartment.

“I will haunt you day and night after I’m dead,” she reportedly posted on the photo-sharing app in a message to her ex-boyfriend before jumping to her death.

In its guidelines, Periscope, which is owned by Twitter, prohibits what it deems “explicitly graphic content or media that is intended to incite violent, illegal or dangerous activities.” However, with some 10 million active users, monitoring every account 24/7 would be daunting, if not impossible.

“Why do you say you love me, you don’t even know me?” asks the pretty young woman seated on a red couch in her apartment and facing the camera. She is pale with long brown hair and piercings, one in her left nostril and two just beneath her lower lip. A prospective suitor has messaged her, but she calmly and firmly rebuffs his advances.

“Yes, I am single, but I am not looking for that. Really.”

She rolls a cigarette before continuing.

“What is about to happen is very shocking, so those who are underage should leave.”

She takes a long drag and continues to field questions from users. She tells them that she is 19 and works at a retirement home. Her determined, unemotional demeanor is a bit unsettling to watch. As is the way she calmly answers questions, sometimes even cracking a smile or unleashing a soft giggle.

“Why are you asking me who I am?” she asks with a chuckle before taking another drag. “I am no one.”

At one point she stops speaking and continues to smoke while scrolling through messages other Periscope users are sending her—mostly lame pick-up lines and other typical online inanities. Footage of her final act has been replaced with a black screen, but the faint voices of emergency personnel can be heard on the audio track, and messages from fellow users shift from playful banter to disbelief to concern.

“Stop messing around,” one of them reads.

“Where did she go? Call the cops!” reads another.

Indeed, it was a fellow Periscope user who alerted emergency services, but by the time they arrived at the station yesterday afternoon it was too late. French police have reportedly launched an investigation into her death.

Before she died, the young French woman reportedly claimed to be a victim of a sexual assault and named her alleged attacker. Whether it was the trauma of rape or another reason that drove her to violently end her life is not known. More unnerving is her decision to broadcast her death to hundreds of strangers. It’s not clear whether it’s a cry for help, since in the video she refuses to divulge any personal details, including her name and location. Had she wanted to feel less alone? Was she seeking empathy? Or in today’s digital world, where we joke that an event never really happened unless it’s posted, tweeted, or streamed, was she merely seeking to document, and thus, validate, the last moments of her life?

“What I want to make clear is that I am not doing this for the hype, but to send a message, to open minds,” she explains in the video.

The precise nature of the message she was hoping to send may never be understood. Instead, we are left a troubling glimpse of a young woman in pain, whom no one could help in time.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/05/11/french-teen-periscopes-her-suicide.html

Aokigahara: Japan’s Suicide Forest

by Kristy Puchko

Northwest of the majestic Mount Fuji is the sprawling 13.5 square miles of Aokigahara, a forest so thick with foliage that it’s known as the Sea of Trees. But it’s the Japanese landmark’s horrific history that made the woods a fitting location for the spooky horror film The Forest. Untold visitors have chosen this place, notoriously called The Suicide Forest, as the setting for their final moments, walking in with no intention of ever walking back out. Here are a few of the terrible truths and scary stories that forged Aokigahara’s morbid reputation.

1. AOKIGAHARA IS ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR SUICIDE DESTINATIONS IN THE WORLD.

Statistics on Aokigahara’s suicide rates vary, in part because the forest is so lush that some corpses can go undiscovered for years or might be forever lost. However, some estimates claim as many as 100 people a year have successfully killed themselves there.


2. JAPAN HAS A LONG TRADITION OF SUICIDE.

Self-inflicted death doesn’t carry the same stigma in this nation as it does in others. Seppuku—a samurai’s ritual suicide thought to be honorable—dates back to Japan’s feudal era. And while the practice is no longer the norm, it has left a mark. “Vestiges of the seppuku culture can be seen today in the way suicide is viewed as a way of taking responsibility,” said Yoshinori Cho, author of Why do People Commit Suicide? and director of the psychiatry department at Teikyo University in Kawasaki, Kanagawa.

3. JAPAN HAS ONE OF THE HIGHEST SUICIDE RATES IN THE WORLD.

The global financial crisis of 2008 made matters worse, resulting in 2,645 recorded suicides in January 2009, a 15 percent increase from the previous year. The numbers reached their peak in March, the end of Japan’s financial year. In 2011, the executive director of a suicide prevention hotline told Japan Times, “Callers most frequently cite mental health and family problems as the reason for contemplating suicide. But behind that are other issues, such as financial problems or losing their job.”

4. SUICIDE PREVENTION ATTEMPTS INCLUDE SURVEILLANCE AND POSITIVE POSTS.

Because of the high suicide rate, Japan’s government enacted a plan of action that aims to reduce such rates by 20 percent within the next seven years. Part of these measures included posting security cameras at the entrance of the Suicide Forest and increasing patrols. Suicide counselors and police have also posted signs on various paths throughout the forest that offer messages like “Think carefully about your children, your family” and “Your life is a precious gift from your parents.”

5. IT’S NATURALLY EERIE.

Bad reputation aside, this is no place for a leisurely stroll. The forest’s trees organically twist and turn, their roots winding across the forest floor in treacherous threads. Because of its location at the base of a mountain, the ground is uneven, rocky, and perforated with hundreds of caves. But more jarring than its tricky terrain is the feeling of isolation created from the stillness; the trees are too tightly packed for winds to whip through and the wildlife is sparse. One visitor described the silence as “chasms of emptiness.” She added, “I cannot emphasize enough the absence of sound. My breath sounded like a roar.”

6. DEATH BY HANGING IS THE MOST POPULAR METHOD OF SUICIDE AMONG THE SEA OF TREES.

The second is said to be poisoning, often by drug overdose.

7. A NOVEL POPULARIZED THIS DARK TRADITION. . .

In 1960, Japanese writer Seichō Matsumoto released the tragic novel Kuroi Jukai, in which a heartbroken lover retreats to the Sea of Trees to end her life. This romantic imagery has proved a seminal and sinister influence on Japanese culture. Also, looped into this lore: The Complete Suicide Manual, which dubs Aokigahara “the perfect place to die.” The book has been found among the abandoned possessions of various Suicide Forest visitors.

8. BUT IT WAS NOT THE START OF THE FOREST’S DARK LEGACY.

Ubasute is a brutal form of euthanasia that translates roughly to “abandoning the old woman.” An uncommon practice—only resorted to in desperate times of famine—where a family would lessen the amount of mouths to feed by leading an elderly relative to a mountain or similarly remote and rough environment to die, not by means of suicide but by dehydration, starvation, or exposure. Some insist this was not a real occurrence, but rather grim folklore. Regardless, stories of the Sea of Trees being a site for such abandonment have long been a part of its mythos.

9. THE SUICIDE FOREST MAY BE HAUNTED.

Some believe the ghosts—or yurei—of those abandoned by ubasute and the mournful spirits of the suicidal linger in the woods. Folklore claims they are vengeful, dedicated to tormenting visitors and luring those that are sad and lost off the path.

10. ANNUAL SEARCHES HAVE BEEN HELD THERE SINCE 1970.

There are volunteers who do patrol the area, making interventional efforts. However, these annual endeavors are not intended to rescue people, but to recover their remains. Police and volunteers trek through the Sea of Trees to bring bodies back to civilization for a proper burial. In recent years, the Japanese government has declined to release the numbers of corpses recovered from these gruesome searches. But in the early 2000s, 70 to 100 were uncovered each year.

11. BRINGING A TENT INTO THE FOREST SUGGESTS DOUBT.

Camping is allowed in the area but visitors who bring a tent with them are believed to be undecided on their suicide attempt. Some will camp for days, debating their fates. People on prevention patrol will gently speak with such campers, entreating them to leave the forest.

12. THE SUICIDE FOREST IS SO THICK THAT SOME VISITORS USE TAPE TO AVOID GETTING LOST.

Volunteers who search the area for bodies and those considering suicide typically mark their way with plastic ribbon that they’ll loop around trees in this leafy labyrinth. Otherwise, one could easily lose their bearings after leaving the path and become fatally lost.

13. YOU MAY NOT BE ABLE TO CALL FOR HELP.

Rich with magnetic iron, the soil of the Suicide Forest plays havoc on cellphone service, GPS systems, and even compasses. This is why tape can be so crucial. But some believe this feature is proof of demons in the dark.

14. NOT EVERYONE WHO GOES THERE HAS DEATH ON THEIR AGENDA.

Locals lament that this natural wonder is known first and foremost for its lethal allure. Still, tourists can take in gorgeous views of Mount Fuji and visit highlights like the distinctive lava plateau, 300-year-old trees, and the enchanting Narusawa Ice Cave.

15. GOING OFF THE PATH CAN LEAD TO GHASTLY DISCOVERIES.

The Internet is littered with disturbing images from the Suicide Forest, from abandoned personal effects snared in the undergrowth to human bones and even more grisly remains strewn across the forest floor or dangling from branches. So if you dare to venture into this forbidding forest, do as the signs suggest and stay on the path.

http://mentalfloss.com/article/73288/15-eerie-things-about-japans-suicide-forest

Man chooses to wear ‘I am a thief’ sign over going to jail

thief

An Ohio man chose to wear a sign proclaiming he’s a thief rather than go to jail after trying to steal a 52-inch television.

Greg Davenport, of Liberty Township, pleaded no contest this month to a theft charge for stealing from a Wal-Mart in the township in December.

A judge in Girard gave Davenport, 44, the sentencing option of 30 days in jail or wearing a sign saying, “I am a thief. I stole from WalMart.”

Davenport has to wear the sign in front of the store eight hours a day for 10 days of his choosing.

16 commonly-used passive-aggressive Email phrases

By Minda Zetlin

Ah, email. Everyone hates it, yet most of us use it for the majority of our communications with acquaintances, sales prospects, and pretty much everyone we do business with. We use email to brainstorm ideas, close deals, make pitches, and form new friendships and alliances. But it can also be a subtle tool that some people deploy with such precision that, like a razor-sharp rapier, you might be wounded before you even know what happened.

Some of the most effective email parries and thrusts are delivered in the form of passive-aggressive phrases–the kind that can impose an obligation, express ire, or even deliver an insult in such a nice and nonchalant way you won’t even know what hit you.

To put you on your guard, here’s a list of passive-aggressive email phrases and what they’re really saying. I’ve received almost every one of these. I bet you have too. I’ve used almost all of them as well. Because–unfortunately–they usually work.

1. “Thanks in advance.”

Translation: I’m already thanking you for doing me this favor, even though you haven’t yet agreed to it. Therefore, you must do it.

2. ” … I’d be most grateful.”

As in, “If you could respond to this inquiry any time within the next 24 hours, I’d be so grateful.” Another form of thanking someone in advance, with the same expected result.

3. “Can I send you some information?”

This is a classic sales technique that, as someone who gets lots of pitches, can drive me straight up the wall. If you’re going to mail me a book, it makes sense to ask my permission first. For anything else, the investment on your end is exactly the same whether you send me an email asking to send information or just go ahead and email the information. The only purpose of asking first is to create some sort of commitment that I’ll pay attention to that information. And to waste everyone’s time with two emails instead of one.

4. “Any interest in … ?”

Usually this is used to try to create what we in publishing call a “curiosity gap.” It’s followed by insufficient information–just enough to try to get a rise out of the recipient. As in, “Any interest in learning about a brilliant new innovation that will change the way you do business forever?” Say yes and you may feel obligated to buy. Say no and you may feel like you’re missing the boat.

5. “Looking forward to … “

” … hearing from you soon,” ” … working with you,” ” … learning more about your needs,” etc., etc. It’s the same idea as “Thanks in advance.” I’m already looking forward to your positive response. If I don’t get it, I’ll be disappointed. (Of course, this phrase is perfectly fine if it refers to something the recipient has already agreed to, for instance if you have a meeting scheduled the following day.)

6. “I hope you don’t mind … “

Translation: I’ve done something or am planning to do something when I should have obtained your permission first. This phrase should be a red flag every time it’s used.

7. “Just wondering … “

This is often used when making what you know is an unreasonable request. “Just wondering if you might have any free time tomorrow when I’m going to be in your city?” Translation: I probably shouldn’t be asking this, but I am anyway

8. “Checking in.”

As in, “I’m just checking in to see whether you’ve had a moment to review my latest proposal.” Translation: I’m going to keep sending you emails about this until you respond.

9. “Circling back.”

This is a relatively new and more aggressive version of “checking in.” As in, “Just circling back to see if you’ve reviewed my proposal.” The meaning of the word circle in this context is clear: I will keep coming around and around like a merry-go-round until you give me an answer.

10. “I don’t mean to be a pest.”

This statement is always a lie.

11. “FYI.”

This, of course, can be perfectly innocuous. But often it’s used when forwarding a message that a recipient might be unhappy about. Like the email I once got “just letting me know” about the harsh criticisms being lobbed at a project of mine that I might not have heard.

12. “See below.”

See above. This too can be used as a different form of “just letting you know.”

13. “Let me clarify.”

Often used as a lead-in to a more detailed or more explicit explanation of something the sender has said before. Translation: You completely misunderstood my last message, you idiot!

14. “Sorry for being unclear.”

I’ll admit to using this one sometimes myself. Sometimes I really was unclear and I am apologizing. Other times it means, “You didn’t really read what I wrote. Pay more attention this time!”

15. “Your thoughts?”

This could be a perfectly innocuous phrase, as in “We could go to the beach tomorrow. Or maybe we should go to the ballgame. Your thoughts?” But more often than not, it’s used to ask someone to comment on, or maybe even solve, a challenging problem or weigh in on a pernicious conflict.

And sometimes it’s a semi-subtle way of telling someone you think he or she has screwed up. As in, “It seems to me your latest actions could lead some investors and customers to believe you’ve completely given up on this company. Your thoughts?”

16. “All the best.”

This phrase, along with “Take care,” subtly or not so subtly indicates that the sender intends to end the conversation with this message. If it’s a continuing discussion, one might sign off with “Best,” “Sincerely,” or something equally neutral. “All the best” translates to: I wish you well in your future endeavors and I don’t expect to hear from you again. You definitely shouldn’t expect to hear from me again.

In other words, goodbye.