Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Confessions of an Internet Suicide Chat Room Ghoul


Mark Drybrough, younger
Mark Drybrough, younger

According to family members, Mark Drybrough, an IT technician, began suffering from depression after contracting glandular fever, also known as infectious mononucleosis, several years earlier. On the morning of his death in June 2005, relatives would later learn, Drybrough had been on his computer writing and receiving e-mails from a supposed female nurse who was using the name "Li Dao." Among the things his relatives discovered after his death was an e-mail from "Li" received only minutes before he hung himself which read, in part, "Are you all right?" It was just after receiving the e-mail that he went to an upstairs bedroom and hanged himself from a ladder.

Later, when family members read through the e-mails and chat room transcripts stored on his computer, they began to put together the pieces of a bizarre puzzle that indicated he may have made a suicide pact with a person he believed was a young female nurse. Although he had been diagnosed as mentally ill prior to his death, suffering mainly from depression, his family, like Nadia's across the Atlantic Ocean in Canada, had not been aware that he was suicidal.

"My daughter told me that a nurse called Li encouraged Mark to kill himself and said that some people had allowed her to watch [suicides] before," said Mark's mother, Elaine Drybrough. "When Mark was ill, I noticed he was using the computer a lot, and I was worried what he was doing."

The police, at least at first, showed little interest in what Drybrough's relatives had uncovered.

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