For $1,000,000…

March 18, 2009


Would you disappear for a year, leaving only a suicide note for your friends and family to find?

When we first dreamed up this dare, I had no idea that faking your own death was such a popular concept that it had earned its own neologism: pseudocide. Never underestimate the allure of getting completely away from it all. Those who really want to explore the topic (and gain practical tips) can read one of the books available on the subject, such this one, but for those of you with less time, I offer a short list of folks who attempted to pull this off:

– Lord Lucan, a stereotypically dissolute and mustachioed peer who went missing after allegedly murdering the nanny (hello, cliche!). Whether he committed pseudocide or plain old suicide is anyone’s guess, but Lucan sightings rival those of Elvis

– Former British Minister of Labour, John Stonehouse, who ditched his clothes (and numerous bad debts) in Florida, only to be discovered alive and well in Australia

– Author Ken Kesey, who faked a suicide note and fled to Mexico to avoid drug charges

– Steven Leung, who had the bright idea to arrange his “demise” to look like he’d been a victim of the WTC attacks

– John Darwin, money-hungry Englishman who faked his death in a canoe accident with the help of his wife (but not his two sons, who were left to grieve) in 2002

Good company? You be the judge. As for me, the answer to this one is a definite no. Putting aside for a moment the fact that you’d have to be something close to a sociopath to think that doing such a thing to loved ones was acceptable, just think of the aftermath. Imagine what it would be like to explain to your stunned, grieving friends and family that the whole thing was all a big joke, and that you convinced them you were dead for money. I don’t see a lot of forgiveness in your future. And rightly so, scumbag.

– Lauren


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