Death in the public square

By James Cook on August 16th, 2013

According to his website, Martin Manley killed himself yesterday, 15 August 2013. It was his sixtieth birthday. But this was no ordinary suicide: Manley left behind a detailed and haunting account of his life in a purpose-built website that went live hours before he shot himself.

In Manley’s own words, it was essential for him to document his life, and his eventual decision last year to kill himself on his sixtieth birthday.

It’s important for me to have written quite a bit about my decision to commit suicide because it’s rarely been done.

He’s right about that. What makes Martin Manley’s death remarkable was not the way he ended his own life, but the testament that he left behind: a website that goes into exhaustive depth about his childhood, his marriages, the clothes he wore, and his mental state.

Manley’s website is a harrowing account of what seems to be a normal and happy life, but he says in a page named “Why suicide?” that he “always thought” that he would kill himself.

I can’t begin to tell you how much I fell head over heels, but then that’s common, I suppose, for a first love.

The site was first shared online by reddit user katwell12. In the original submission, katwell12 says that his or her father works in local news, and that the site was sent to him via email. Despite katwell12’s claim that the police force has verified the events planned out by Manley took place, there has been no official confirmation as yet.

As of the time of writing, the website that Martin Manley intended to be his public good-bye is intermittently offline. Visitors to the site are often met with a Yahoo! error page. A mirror version of the site has been made available here.

Contained in Manley’s website is a reference to a hidden cache of gold and silver worth an estimated $200,000. He listed the coordinates as 38.800542, -94.687884.


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Here’s a screenshot of Martin Manley’s website, as it appeared on the day of his suicide.

Manley

The Samaritans provide oft-cited guidelines for the reporting of suicide that most journalists stick to. They’re responsible and respectful. Are they also now irrelevant?