The pencil case

JOSIAS: Why is it that the feelings we have towards suicide victims are so different from those we have for other violent murderers? Why do we call them victims, not culprits?

FANNY: Max Wormwood was more than a director or mere curator mind you, he was a star of the show in his own right. What had begun life as a YouTube video, of him and some scaffolding, in a comic scrape with the laws of gravity, had grown into the hugely successful website and franchise ‘’ His clip remained one of the site’s most popular hits and one of the funniest things you’ll ever see.

I first met Max through work, on a case. One he would caringly refer to later as ‘the pencil case’. My Name’s Fanny, by the way, Fanny Satterday, I’m a Coroner’s Forensic Psychologist. Meaning I grub around in the ugly-lobes of dead people’s heads. I’m not poorly suited to the job.

Max was being sued over a piece on the site that the plaintiff believed had led her twelve-year-old sister Effie, to attempt suicide. The piece in question was about a Japanese schoolgirl who became so desperate during an exam, she took her own life, then and there, by shoving pencils into each of her nostrils and slamming her head face first, into the desk.

This, of course, is not true! Its an urban myth! You couldn’t possibly kill yourself like that! Its insane! You could however do considerably more than just give yourself a bit of a headache.

When Effie tried, the pencils snapped. She was spared the horrors of permanent brain damage but trauma like that can leave much deeper scars. Without medication, Effie is unable to fight a morbid fascination with putting things up her nose. Mealtimes are a nightmare. I won’t ask you to picture toilet time.

The case was easily resolved in Max’s favour, of course. There were numerous references to the original story all over the web and the fact that Effie had found it on ‘What-Goes-Up’ did not suggest any culpability on Max’s part but he was ordered to put up warnings on the site, which he did. Huge, red, flashing letters, ‘Do. Not. Try. This. At. Home.’ I think he thought it was funny.

MAX: Not everybody appreciates my sense of humour. I get a lot of hate mail, most of its hilarious. I encourage it, I throw the meanest and sickest, like gauntlets, onto the site. My favourite goes “How does a one armed man cut his wrists?” Of course, this is completely wrong. You can see that. It should be ‘wrist’ not ‘wrists.’

an excerpt from my first radio play, ‘entrance of the gladiators’. the whole thing can be heard here.

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