A Soldier's Death By M-16 Rifle: One Of The Very First Suicides Caused By The Internet


His name was Eran Aderet, a lonely and depressed computer enthusiasts who was so disappointed of his life that he committed suicide at the age of 19.

At that time, he was only four months into his Israel Defense Forces (IDF) service.

Aderet was among the many Israeli soldiers who committed suicide each year, either on duty or on furlough, and with seeing the IDF not treating the problems with urgency.

The struggle was very difficult for Avshalom Aderet, father of Eran, who was among the parents of soldiers who lost their lives during their service to the IDF.

On one hand, his son was not killed in battle, not in a training accident, not in a car accident. "I was angry at the act, I was angry at him, I did not understand how could such an intelligent boy, who talked to me about the future and wanted to be an entrepreneur like me, have come to the conclusion that the solution to his plight is to stop living."

However, he said that "we were lucky," referring to himself and other parents who lost their child in the military.

"We lost a family member while he was in the army and not in civilian life," the father said.

Although he believes that the IDF could've done more to prevent his son's suicide, only if the IDF is more "sensitive," the father praised the IDF for the way it helps families deal with their losses, especially by offering psychological support groups and counseling.

Eran Aderet
Eran Aderet.

It started back in 1997, days before his birthday.

Aderet was not a person who celebrate birthdays like most people do, in fact, he didn't celebrate many of his birthdays due to suffering from clinical depression.

His only help, was using Prozac, an antidepressant, and by surfing the relatively young internet.

It was those two that provided the young Aderet with company. To Aderet, the web was his sanctuary for social outcasts. He did this by joining various discussion groups on the web, where members are allowed to assume an identity, reinvent themselves into someone else, and make new friends.

To Aderet, the web was his escape route from his lonely world.

It should be noted that as of December 1997, only 70 million people were on the internet. This was only a little more than 1% of the world's population. While research done on the web during those days were scarce, but knowing that Aderet was an internet addict who joined some web communities, there were certainly quite a number of people with similar addictions and problems at the time.

And Aderet was a member of a discussion group dealing with the topic of suicides.

Originally, the group was made to discuss things like why the percentage of suicides is higher during holidays. But soon, people with suicidal thoughts started to join the group, including the young Aderet.

In the group, they started discussing death, what it would feel like, and how would be the best way to willingly encounter death with minimum pain, and so forth.

Even, there was one group that Aderet joined, where members can freely express their opinion regarding suicide and how to achieve it.

It was through these groups that many people who were dealing with psychological issues, seek help from those who were also dealing with issues. And all that without any professional psychological supervision.

And there it was in one of the discussion groups, one question appeared:

“Does anyone know what would be the best way to suicide with an M-16 rifle? What do you aim for? The head? From what direction do you point the weapon to the head? Please be specific. Thank you, Gonner.”

Gonner’s real name was Eran Aderet.

When others in the discussion group read Aderet's question, some gave taunting responses, some with humor, and some took it seriously.

“Dear Gonner, take the time to research ways of obtaining help rather than spending time on planning self destruction,” wrote one user, advising Gonner to clean his M-16. or call for the SWAT team and aim
the gun at them so they will shoot.

“An M-16 is a full-automatic military rifle. If you can keep your head and your rifle in line, then committing suicide by shooting yourself in the head in full auto mode should be child’s play. Just make sure there’s a good backstop so you don’t take any of your neighbors with you,” said another.

Aderet reportedly was depressed because of the treatment he received while he got listed in the military.

All Aderet wanted was to serve in the field of computers. But unfortunately for him, he was assigned to a warehouse unit that loaded and unloaded trucks with the equipment of soldiers who were being released and enlisted.

So even before he was enlisted in the military, Aderet's duty already demanded physical tasks. His superiors saw him with the least respect due to his intellectual demeanor.

“We had many conversations about suicides, but this time I actually thought he would go through with it,” said a friend of Aderet, who also suffered from suicidal thoughts.

“I tried to encourage him to wait a bit and get discharged. He was not even supposed to be enlisted but he was afraid that without his proper discharge papers he would not get by in the civilian world."

"Both he and his parents thought that it would be good for him, that he would have company outside the world of Internet. I understood that the army was breaking him and that this time he was serious, he really meant to commit suicide. I knew that if he was not discharged soon that’s what would happen.”

Avshalom Aderet
Dr. Avshalom Aderet, the father of Eran Aderet, the Chairman of the 'For Life' organization.

Then that day happened.

When he was departing for his base for guard duty, he stopped in a field near his house. There, Aderet loaded his M-16, moved the rifle's selector switch to automatic, aimed at his head, and pulled the trigger.

In almost that instant, the rifle fired and the bullet went out straight out of the nozzle.

Aderet's body fell to the ground, all covered in blood.

“Even without the Internet Eran would have committed suicide,” his friend said. "It’s not like he really needed an explanation on how to kill himself with the rifle.”

“I didn’t know he would do it so quickly. I thought I had more time to calm him down and talk him out of it.”

Soon after he heard the news about his friend's death, he immediately go online to access the discussion group, and verify that Gonner, his friend, a soldier, is dead.

“I just wanted you to know that he committed suicide. He was my best friend.”

When it was investigated, it was reportedly said that the person who showed Aderet the way to kill himself, was a manager of an Internet Service Provider in Chicago. At that time, he didn't expect things like this to happen, and thought that online discussion groups would have no dire consequences.

"I really did not believe he had an M-16. Automatic rifles are rare in the U.S. I was sad he chose to leave,” the manager said.

Before his Aderet's death, it was said that he had asked to meet a mental health officer to help overcome his distress.

At first, he was said that all other soldiers who were much more assertive than him should enter before him, and that he needed to queue or come at another time. The second time he tried, the officer refused to meet him. And at the third time, Aderet did saw the officer, who was a lieutenant. However, when Aderet was at her door of her office, she told him that she was about to do something and that he had to again wait.

A few days later, Aderet committed suicide.

It's reported that every year, a special Israel Police team is called in to deal with hundreds of potential suicides from people who have posted their desperate messages on the internet.

Avshalom Aderet has written a paper titled Alert: The Dark Side of Chats – Internet without Boundaries that tells the story of his son.

In the U.S., the first death involving the internet, was Sharon Lopatka's death in 1996.