In March 2008, Carleton University student Nadia Kajouji committed suicide, drowning herself in the Rideau River. When Ottawa police searched her laptop, they discovered conversations she had online with a man named William Melchert-Dinkel, a 47-year-old male nurse living outside of Minneapolis, Minn. Police say that he used an Internet chat room to encourage Kajouji to kill herself—furthermore, according to transcripts of their chats, he even suggested that she hang herself (instead of drowning) so he could watch.
Melchert-Dinkel has not been charged for his alleged role in Kajouji’s death. But the incident motivated Kitchener-Conestoga MP Harold Albrecht to introduce a private member’s motion seeking to clarify the Criminal Code, by specifying the role of the Internet in the existing provision that makes it illegal to “counsel a person to commit suicide” or to aid or abet them in doing so, whether or not they are successful. Albrecht told Maclean’s, “By clarifying this loophole, this takes current technology and places it within the law so that there’s no question for law enforcement officials.” The motion passed unanimously in the House on Nov. 18.
The Ottawa Citizen reported that shortly after being questioned by Minnesota police, Melchert-Dinkel checked himself into a Minnesota hospital. He confessed that he was addicted to Internet chat rooms and felt guilty “because of past and present advice to those on the Internet of how to end their lives,” according to hospital notes that were quoted by the Minnesota Board of Nursing in their decision to revoke his nursing licence this summer. In October, Melchert-Dinkel told the Associated Press that “nothing is going to come” of the allegations pertaining to Kajouji and eight other cases he has been linked to. “I’ve moved on with my life, and that’s it,” he said.
Harold Albrecht and his fellow MPs hope that’s not the end of the story.