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From the issue dated Thursday, October 8, 1998
PUTTING THE WEB TO WORK
Living With Suicide
World-Wide Web site: http://www.pbs.org/weblab/living
Created: July 1998
Usage: More than 15,000 visitors since July.
Cost: The charity received $12,000 from Web Lab, a non-profit group that experiments with new uses of the Internet, to create and maintain the site.
Highlights: The "Shared Voices" section of the Web site features stories from people whose lives have been affected by suicide, either because they once considered taking their own lives or because they lost someone they cared about. Each time a viewer clicks on the "shuffle" button, the opening lines of three different stories come up on the screen. John F. Keefe, founder and producer of the site, says that the approach is intended to "mimic the randomness of suicide itself." In the three months that the site has been on line, more than 150 people have posted their personal stories. Mr. Keefe says that the anonymity that the Internet offers is particularly appealing to people dealing with the often taboo subject of suicide.
Lessons learned: Living With Suicide has found that raising money for an entirely Web-based group is not easy. Although Mr. Keefe says that he has written to pharmaceutical companies and hospitals to try to raise $12,000 to match the money the group already has for the Web site, the charity so far has not raised a penny. "We underestimated the degree to which people weren't going to be interested in funding this, and also underestimated the amount of time it takes just to get funding from other folks," he says.
Future plans: Living With Suicide wants to offer audio stories of people who have been affected by suicide. The group hopes to set up a phone line that people can call to record their stories so the audio clips can be made available on the Web site.
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Copyright © 1998 The Chronicle of Philanthropy