Archive for Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Shawnee police officer interrupts twins’ apparent birthday suicide pact

Shawnee Police Officer Nick Shurmantine talks about finding twin brothers, possibly minutes from death, trying to commit suicide on their birthday by funneling carbon monoxide into their car. Shurmantine, who came across the car Tuesday night, said he was glad he interrupted the men's suicide attempt but that he wished he knew more about what drove them to make the decision.

Shawnee Police Officer Nick Shurmantine talks about finding twin brothers, possibly minutes from death, trying to commit suicide on their birthday by funneling carbon monoxide into their car. Shurmantine, who came across the car Tuesday night, said he was glad he interrupted the men's suicide attempt but that he wished he knew more about what drove them to make the decision.

December 14, 2011


The twins were slumped in the front seats, exhaust pouring into the driver’s-side window through a garden hose duct-taped to the tailpipe. It was their 31st birthday.

Shawnee Police Officer Nick Shurmantine believes both men would have been dead in minutes had he not come across their car.

“I think I was their guardian angel (Tuesday) night,” Shurmantine said.

On Wednesday, Shurmantine told reporters he was glad he interrupted the men’s suicide attempt — as a police officer, he said, it’s his job to protect life. But he was left wondering why they did what they did.

“That’s the question I want answered more than anything,” he said. “But I don’t think I’ll ever know.”

Shurmantine, a three-year veteran of the police department, was nearing the end of his shift Tuesday night when he decided to make one last pass through a neighborhood where copper thieves have been targeting partially constructed homes.

About 9:15 p.m. he spotted the car running in the driveway of an unfinished home in the 6100 block of Clearcreek Parkway.

Shurmantine’s first guess was thieves. But he didn’t see movement on the property or flashlights in the house, he wrote in his report. As he got closer to the car he noticed the garden hose, then shined his light inside and saw the unconscious men.

“It went from being ‘I’m going to catch some criminals in the act’ to saving someone,” Shurmantine said. “It’s an instant switch.”

Shurmantine, who said he spent five years as an emergency medical technician before becoming a police officer, pulled open the driver’s-side door to let in fresh air and checked the men’s carotid arteries for pulses. Both were very weak.

He shook the men and yelled at them before one gasped for air. Both were talking but confused before they left for the hospital, Shurmantine said.

There was no note or anything else explaining their actions on the men or in the car.

Suicide pacts are rare but real, Shawnee police spokesman Capt. Dan Tennis said. He said that he’d heard of more cases — though none in Shawnee — involving teens than adults and that, often, those were successful.

Tennis said it would probably be up to the men’s mental health professionals to decide whether they would talk to Shurmantine. As suicide is not illegal, Tennis said, police would not interview the men, who are Olathe residents, as they would in a criminal investigation.

Shurmantine said he would speak with the men if given the chance.

“I would love to sit down and talk to them and try to get some answers for myself,” he said. “It’s a lot to soak in.”


blue73harley 6 years, 4 months ago

I don't care what Smitty says. Cops are good people.

jackpot 6 years, 4 months ago

Lg40 I just checked my D L had my name not jackpot on it. You had a better chance to get out of a ticket with me by Yes Sir or No Sir. No brown nose needed.

riverdrifter 6 years, 4 months ago

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Liberty275 6 years, 4 months ago

That's a tad harsh. I think most cops are good people that want to help their community. I'm sure the sadists as you call them do exist, but not in large numbers, at least around here.

Frankly, I despise authority but have never found our local cops anything but personable and seemingly interested in the public good. Of course, I don't give them reason to tase me, so opinions will surely vary. The left will probably chime in telling us how evil the police are for tasing them last time they were caught shoplifting.

On a related note, I will do everything I can to not be in front of a cop in a car. That's psychological baggage left from my younger days when my car was slower and I had to show off more. In my defense, I successfully evaded a state trooper in FL. He never had a chance.

Concerning the guy in the article, sure, this cop is being exploited for PR, but that doesn't change the fact he was acting to protect private property and in the course, saved two human lives. He and others like him deserve our thanks, not disdain.

riverdrifter 6 years, 4 months ago

"We appreciate your taking the time to improve the quality of discussions on our site."


parrothead8 6 years, 4 months ago

Arresting murderers and rapists is sadism?

riverdrifter 6 years, 4 months ago

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motercyclejim 6 years, 4 months ago

I agree!!! cops are allways so mean and crule they are more liek public newsences then public servents!!!

i once had a cop pull my arm behind my back forsefuly to handcuf me, just becuse i was in the rong house which is an honest mistake!!

Another time I had a cop take my gun from me just becuse I was in a bank and was loadding it but its my gun and I have a permit 4 it!!!

They are out of control and the are mean!!! They dont save lifes they just make peeples lifes misserable!

Shane Garrett 6 years, 4 months ago

You a funny person motercyclejim, very funny person.

Don Whiteley 6 years, 4 months ago

People who dislike police, typically dislike them because they stop them from doing whatever they want to whomever they want, whenever they want. Many people in America interpret that as taking away their freedom.

CreatureComforts 6 years, 4 months ago

It's people like you that make me, as someone coming from a family full of Boston PD officers, hope that someday your really, really, really need a police officer...and they save your butt despite your negative attitude of them.

Food_for_Thought 6 years, 4 months ago

If this were a firefighter, would your opinion be the same? If this were an average citizen, would your opinion be the same?

So, simply because this police officer, sworn to serve and protect, acted in a professional manner which wound up saving two boys' lives, he should not be recognized for it? Police officer or not, he is a hero. Just because someone is a hero, doesn't mean it's a "PR stunt"...though I'm sure the reality is, police officers do things like this all the time, yet you don't ever hear about it in the papers.

Beth Ennis 6 years, 4 months ago

LG40, I have worked for 2 police departments in my life. There are always a few "bad" cops because we draw from an imperfect society, so we can't expect our police/fire/military to be perfect. HOWEVER, I will say you couldn't pay me enough money to do their job. I have seen grown men bawling like a baby after having to go to a SIDS death. I have heard the horror stories about having to go with social workers to check on children when the house was filled with animal feces and human feces. I was the one who took the phone call from a frantic mother who had heard her daughter had been killed in a car accident. I couldn't confirm (it was true, it had been a horrendous car accident) nor deny, but some poor police officer was going to be showing up at her door and having to deal with telling this woman her daughter was dead. Most cops don't want to arrest people. A lot of the arrests are due to the uncivil (I won't even say stupid) behavior of the person being arrested. I wonder how you would like the world if we, for just one day, told all police/fire/military across the country to "take the day off". No one goes to work today. Is that the reality that you want? Really????

Rich Noever 6 years, 4 months ago

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Patricia Kirk 6 years, 4 months ago

Amen. I once knew a young man who called the police by unpleasant names until he needed one. Then it became "Officer, sir." I always suspect that those who hate them so much probably have dishonesty in their lives that they wouldn't want the police or society to know.

Christine Anderson 6 years, 4 months ago

Police officers have saved my autistic son's life more than once. Numerous other times, they have helped my family in instances of domestic violence. I thank them, even though I was arrested by one once for forgetting a court appearance on a traffic violation. I still say they are life savers.

YoMomma 6 years, 4 months ago

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matahari 6 years, 4 months ago

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jhawkinsf 6 years, 4 months ago

Since you can predict the future so well, please be so kind as to post the winning lottery numbers for the next drawing. I could really use some extra cash for Christmas shopping. If by some chance you're unable to do that, we'll all know what a foolish comment you made.

Sigmund 6 years, 4 months ago

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Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 4 months ago

I don't think it was a good idea to make this event so public, and it was an especially bad idea to describe the exact method used.

It's a good thing that Officer Shurmantine was there in time, but as for wondering why they did it, I don't believe he will ever get an answer. Some events and actions can be described, but not explained.

riverdrifter 6 years, 4 months ago

I mean, I give up on this one. Some sometimes it shows ya that it just goes to show ya. Duh.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 4 months ago

Did your younger brother commit suicide? Have three of your friends done the same? Those were rather difficult times for everyone involved, and none of us wanted it to be widely publicised.

My parents once went to an auction where old police evidence was disposed of. As part of the lot they purchased, they got a garden hose that was very clearly labeled as having been used in a successful suicide. My mother sold it at a garage sale, thinking that it would be OK, since the new owner of the garden hose would never know what it had been used for.

I don't think precise instructions about exactly how to successfully commit suicide should be published in such great detail. That makes it all too easy for someone else to do it also, because now they know precisely how to go about doing it.

Now, what were you trying to say?

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 4 months ago

I don't doubt that all of that is very true, but the method that was so very exactly described in this "Ho To Do It" manual is certainly the most likely to be successful. Most other methods require materials that are more difficult to procure. This method requires only a car, some duct tape, and a garden hose. Those are all items that can be obtained on very short notice, with no one noticing that something is not right.

I have done web searches on the topic. I have never found this method described, and it's my opinion is that is because if you use it, it success is virtually guaranteed, if no one comes by in time. And usually, they don't.

jaywalker 6 years, 4 months ago

Sorry, but a garden hose in an exhaust pipe is an incredibly well known method. Books, movies, TV; well disseminated.
Articles contain all manners of info on varieties of topics; we know how the 9/11 terrorists circumvented security protocols and got weapons on board; shoe bomber; underwear bomber; truck of fertilizer and diesel in OKC......etc. Still gets printed. It's news.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 4 months ago

I have to agree with Ron on this. I really don't see the point of this story.

Sure, the policeman did a great thing, but the publicity that will make this guy a media star will almost certainly make recovery into normalcy for these two brothers much more difficult, if not impossible.

But heroes sell newspapers, and that's all that really matters in the editorial room.

jaywalker 6 years, 4 months ago

Brilliant synopsis as always. Of course you don't see the point of the story. That's only natural. It's certainly not "news"; twins being saved from a suicide pact happens every day, hell, every hour. So trite. Now if they would have succeeded in their attempt, THAT would bring a point to the story for sure. Yuppers. Sure, the policeman did a great thing, but the local newspapers should really have taken into account the recovery of the twins because that's what newsmen do: pre-reporting psychoanalysis. That's their job, for crying out loud! Couldn't agree more. It's just like those bastards that rent hang gliding equipment that don't consider the long term effects of their past-time might lead to someone developing a fear of heights! So irresponsible! Besides, nobody wants to hear about a hero. That's just gratuitous and misleading. Please don't distract us from the death, mayhem, and political in-fighting; those are the true feel-good stories.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 4 months ago

This isn't reporting the news--this is hype.

But you aren't concerned with that. You saw a post by me, and went into immediate froth mode.

jaywalker 6 years, 4 months ago

You're absolutely right! This isn't "news." A life saved should never be discussed or known about, let alone twins in a suicide pact. That's as common as cloning a woolly mammoth.
And again, you're absolutely right that I'm merely picking on poor little ol' you. Never has anything to do with the lunacy you post, it's all about you.

Cindy Flippo 6 years, 4 months ago

God placed you in the right place at the right was you however who chose to stop. Thank you for your instinct to do that, and most of all thank you for the job and service you perform everyday. May you have many blessings in your life........and may the men whose lives you saved today, be forever thankful.

jonas_opines 6 years, 4 months ago

Whoa, Lawrenceguy40 sure trolled you all successfully today! Has he been not around recently, that so many people forgot how much effort that he's worth?

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 4 months ago

I am amazed that so few posters here seem to be aware of the phenomenon of copycat suicides, and how common it is.

"Help the media prevent copycat suicides" An article published by the American Psychological Association Clipped from:

"Psychologists can help newspaper and television reporters report on suicides in a responsible manner, preventing suicide "contagion"--the proliferation of copycat suicides--said psychologist Daniel Romer, PhD, at a session at APA's 2003 Annual Convention.

"Romer, research director of the Adolescent Risk Communication Institute at the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg Public Policy Center, has collaborated with researchers at his center, Columbia University and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to study the media's effects on suicide rates. They have found that the media likely played a role in approximately 10 percent of suicide deaths of people younger than 25--either by giving youths the idea to commit suicide or by providing youths already contemplating suicide with information about a specific method."

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 4 months ago

2) "The Cultural Dynamics of Copycat Suicide" by Alex Mesoudi, Biological and Experimental Psychology Group, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary, University of London, London, United Kingdom

"In supporting the assumptions made by sociologists that point and mass clusters can be taken as evidence that suicide may spread via social learning, the model reinforces the need for efforts to counter the social transmission of suicide-related information. The findings related to point clusters suggests that social learning and homophily generate distinct types of clusters (predominantly spatiotemporal versus predominantly spatial); by using this knowledge to distinguish between copycat point clusters and homophilous point clusters, efforts to reduce social transmission might be more effectively targeted at the former. The findings related to mass clusters in particular highlight the need for media guidelines that restrict the dissemination and glorification of suicides, as already introduced in many countries [11], [23]. More specifically, the model suggests that increasing the range of one-to-many transmission (r), increasing the social influence of prestigious celebrities (cs) and increasing the proportion of the population who are assigned celebrity status (cp) can all increase the probability of widespread suicide pandemics. Anecdotally, all three of these trends appear to be occurring in many countries in recent years: satellite television and the internet have increased the global range of the mass media; celebrities such as film actors and pop singers are being assigned increasing importance relative to politicians and intellectuals (whose suicides do not elicit copycat suicide attempts); and reality television programmes are increasing the number of celebrities within society. This highlights how media guidelines on suicide reporting will become all the more important in the future."

Copycat Suicides are Worth a Study! " Clipped from:

"However, the one thing I'd like to highlight this time is our tendency to copy the behavior of others, especially the people we identify with. Have you ever witnessed close friends adopting the same kind of laugh? Or have you seen the example of a charismatic leader replicate to an organization? That's what I'm talking about. Are we affected by the same? Absolutely! ...and more than you know.

"Based on research that indicates the most fatal examples, I'd like to share one: Copycat suicides! Statistics seem to imply that if journalists are not careful, the headlines in the news can have a powerful impact on its readers. If readers identify themselves with someone who has committed suicide and made it to the front page they will be inclined to follow suit. Copycat suicide is a fairly well documented phenomenon."

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 4 months ago

3) "Experts Fear Copycat Suicides After Bullying Cases" Clipped from:

PHILADELPHIA — The experts call it "contagion" when a suicide or rash of suicides inspires others to follow in an attempt at martyrdom or solidarity in death.

Most people would call them copycat suicides. Whatever the name, it appears to have been at play in at least one suicide since Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi's highly publicized jump off the George Washington Bridge. And experts fear that other recent suicides might fit the mold or that more are ahead.

That creates a conundrum for advocates who want to stop teenage bullying and their related suicides, as well as for the media outlets that cover them: how to spread the word without romanticizing the problem or unwittingly encouraging vulnerable teenagers to choose death.

"They may see this as a somewhat glamorous ending – that the youth got lots of attention, lots of sympathy, lots of national concern that they never got in life," said Anara Guard, a senior adviser at the Boston-based Suicide Prevention Resource Center. "The second possible factor is that vulnerable youth may feel like, 'If they couldn't cut it, neither can I.'"

Someone who's mentally ill may learn about a suicide and consider it a reasonable option, said Madelyn Gould, professor of psychiatry and public health at Columbia University in New York: "A vulnerable person might say, 'That stopped the pain,'" she said.

Experts say that while contagion is a real issue, it's getting more difficult to identify.

Ann Haas, director of prevention programs at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, said that before the Internet, it was relatively easy to track the phenomenon. When several happened within the circulation area of a newspaper, contagion was likely a factor.

But when news knows no geographical boundaries, she said, it's hard to tell whether the suicides are linked. And Clementi's death reached farther than most suicide stories do."

Published by Clipped from:

"Alex Mesoudi of Queen Mary University in London has created a computer model simulation that attempts to study how these copycat suicides occur. In this computer generated model, Mesoudi created a model community of 1000 people who were divided into 100 groups of 10. Each of these groups represented one type of social group. The simulation was balanced using suicide statistics, social networking norms, and other factors. The study found that people were more likely to commit suicide in groups, or clusters, attributed to the grouping of like people and the learning of suicidal aspects, matching the phenomenon of copycat suicide. It also found that the media played a significant part in copycat suicide, whether as a preventive or causal factor.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 4 months ago

4) The Sydney Morning Herald 'Copycat suicide': another teen dies Clipped from:

"The body of a teenage girl has been found in Bridgend, the 17th young person living near the Welsh town to die by apparent suicide since the start of last year.

Police identified the teenager as 16-year-old schoolgirl Jenna Parry, who was from the village of Cefn Cribwr, eight kilometres from Bridgend. She was found by a man walking his dog across the village common.

South Wales Police, who have been conducting a review of suicides in the local area, stressed that there is no apparent link between the deaths.

Assistant Chief Constable Dave Morris said: "A number had access to social networking sites but there's no suggestion that anybody used these sites as a means to take their lives.

"They were all young people with big issues. There are a constellation of factors influencing these young people. Young people tell us that the media coverage is starting to contribute to those pressures."

The parents of Nathaniel Pritchard, 15, who died in hospital last week, urged the media to stop their high profile coverage of suicides in the Welsh town.

"We have lost a son, and media coverage made a difficult time unbearable. We did not wish to speak to the media. Not just for ourselves but for other families," Sharon and Vincent Pritchard said in a joint statement.

"We feel the media coverage could trigger other people who are already feeling low - to take their own lives," they added."

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 4 months ago

5) Copycat suicide: 7-year-old boy kept asking father what's death published by 'Daily News and Analylsis' Clipped from:

The image of his uncle hanging by a rope in his Bangalore home six months ago remained etched in seven-year-old S Karthik’s memory. Watching the body of his school cook, who recently committed suicide by hanging, made him even more curious about death. The standard II student kept asking his cab driver father what it would be like to commit suicide before ending his life in a case of copycat suicide.

Karthik, a student of Nelamangala government primary school, Bangalore, tried to hang himself with a belt in his classroom on Monday while the other students and teachers attended the prayer assembly in the quadrangle. When the teachers went to the classroom, Karthik was unconscious — hanging with his belt tied to the window grill. He was taken to the Matrushree hospital, but he breathed his last on Tuesday."

There's a whole lot more I could clip and paste here, but only the most uneducated could fail to see the point I was trying to make about the well known phenomena of "copycat suicide".

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