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In Memoriam: Ian Murdock (docker.com)
1457 points by spb on Dec 30, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 366 comments

We've closed this thread to comments by new accounts because of trolls.

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I worked with Ian when he was CTO and I was COO of the Linux Foundation. With the Executive Director, Jim Zemlin, and a few others, we helped build the LF from the challenging merger of OSDL and the Free Standards Group.

He was thoughtful, funny, hard working, and incredibly well-connected in the free (and commercial) software communities. I will miss him.

Also, for those who weren't previously acquainted: Ian was the "ian" in Debian, the Linux distro he created which is the basis for Ubuntu. He started work at Docker in November, which is why they are publishing this.

I never knew that, that's pretty neat.

I was curious where the Deb came from:

>It comes from the names of the creator of Debian, Ian Murdock, and his wife, Debra.


> the Linux distro he created which is the basis for Ubuntu

I'm sure this sounds as vinyl scratching to a lot of ears

Debian stands on its own, though that statement is correct

I think this is a good visualization for things like that:


It's probably the single most ported distribution, from a variety of remixes for desktop, netbook and recovery uses alike to usually being the first target for every microcontroller and single-board.

And ported to the most hardware architectures too. https://www.debian.org/ports/#portlist-released

Debian even had a BSD flavor for a while. https://www.debian.org/ports/kfreebsd-gnu/

kFreeBSD is still alive, though not a formal Debian port.

And Nexenta is a debian based Illumos (formerly OpenSolaris) distribution.

"of course it runs debian"


OS rivalry with https://www.netbsd.org/ ?

That was the joke.

And Ubuntu's "trunk" too, unless you counted it as a remix already.

For a little on the history of Linux and unix in Mr. Murdock's life, I found this piece by him a very nice read.


Nice. Thanks for this.

Debian and Slackware are the two oldest distros still around, beating out Red Hat by roughly a year. They form the inspiration and, in some key ways, the basis of many modern distros, and Debian especially created apt-get and greatly increased the number of people familiar with dependency-tracking package management.

(I honestly can't find anything saying the Debian people invented dependency-tracking package management. FreeBSD's ports system might predate it. However, Debian brought the idea to more people than FreeBSD was able to.)

Ubuntu still uses Debian packages, like a number of other distros, and Debian has seen other distros rise and fall. Ian Murdock therefore had a direct hand in creating core infrastructure we rely on to this day, whether we know it or not.

Other OSes had package managers with dependency resolution before Linux even existed, eg: AIX.

Debian packaging was an amazing step forward in the Linux world when it appeared.

I mean it's hard to rank these things but Debian has been so so very important to the whole GNU/Linux/FOSS/Anything-But-Microsoft endeavor.

I like this better than the docker post. https://bits.debian.org/2015/12/mourning-ian-murdock.html

Ongoing discussion on the HN post that promotes the Debian source https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10813826

It really bothers me that traces of someone's existence can be wiped out with a mouse click, be it on twitter, google, facebook, or other sites. I read the tweets while this was going on, I was hoping he would find some other means to cope and raise awareness, and to hear that he actually went through with it. :-( I go to reread and see if there's anything I might have missed and his twitter page is gone as if he never existed.

I agree. But I can't blame him for not wanting to involuntarily dedicate his life to fighting this bullshit. Given the choice between fighting a vastly corrupt and hostile police force, facing merciless prosecutors, being covered by the media, many of whom are hostile, being judged and discussed online, losing the career that you spent your life building, and never being able to leave any of that behind... and not having to deal with any of that? I don't know. I can understand how one in that situation would make this choice, especially in the heat of the moment. Aaron Schwartz made the same call.

It's a tragedy. I desperately hope we get more information.

I'm sure it's more complicated than that. I doubt there was any real career ending situation that was about to occur due to police or anything else.

Aaron Swartz, not Schwartz.

> I can understand how one in that situation would make this choice

I don't. My first reaction when being faced with adversity is to fight it, get revenge in some form, not harm myself hoping that it will shame those that wronged me.

Sans emphasized racist remark, that's pretty sad.

That is mostly a property of Twitter. It disallows crawling by archive.org, and very few others have the capacity to keep up with the massive amounts of data it generates.

The Library of Congress archives tweets.

Apparently there's a facility in Utah that archives all tweets. Unfortunately they have a fairly restricted API.

Internet Archive still seems to have plenty of his tweets up until yesterday. You might find it easier to just add wayback.co/ before any URL to get its Wayback Machine version.

What happened to his linkedin profile as well?

Previous thread about Ian Murdock: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10803924

This news is, tragically, new information. :(

Would the increase in time critical public awareness had that thread not been deleted have made a difference? Perhaps the chance that it could should outweigh the urge for propriety in future admin decisions.

That's an impossible thing to do right, you let it it it might turn ugly, you take it down you get this. Dang made the right call here, I've been in that position several times with camarades/ww.com and it is extremely un-nerving. The problem is that since the authorities were the apparent main cause of the problem here there would likely not be much positive effect from alerting them (something I did do in the cases where it might have made a difference and in at least one of those it did).

Police are one of the more blunt instruments in the toolbox. What possibly would have helped if someone close to Ian spotted this and would have done something about it but one can easily imagine that those people all follow Ians twitter feed and would already be better informed than any of us.

Secondguessing is easy.


What an absolutely ridiculous comment.

Yes, some friend/acquaintance could have paid him a visit. How big do you think the chances are that HN would be the channel that would alert a friend or acquaintance of Ian that would not already be aware of this through his twitter feed?

> But dang's comfort is more important, isn't it?

No, it obviously isn't but he made the right call in shutting down that thread and it looks to me as if you're trying to blame Dan for the death of Ian, which is utterly reprehensible. As I wrote above there is no way to do this right but with hindsight you too would have known what to do.

Fucking backseat drivers. I've been thinking really hard lately about why I feel that HN is no longer the nice place it used to be and it is comments like these that ram that home in a way that not much else ever could.

I think that startups becoming trendy made HN trendy, and trendy anything is bad. I've been here for a long time too (I ditch my accounts) and it really does seem there's been a gradual increase of nasty children and a corresponding departure of nice adults. Whenever I go away and come back it seems worse. The worsening also seems to be marked by big events like the Reddit fiasco, that women-in-tech stuff, Steve Jobs dying, Snowden, etc. I think when pg left that was it. I just want to have conversations with intelligent people but that doesn't seem to be the point anymore.

Subject of a long running thread with another HN'er. You probably are on to something with major events catalyzing the slide downward.


It's just a cheap attempt at using Ian's death to become fodder in your private feud with Dan, very low and very much deplorable.

Trying to make it seem as if I somehow mis-understood you is even lower.


> Had "Dang" simply left the post alone, it's very likely that some people here could have touched base with Ian and prevented this suicide from happening.

That is something you don't have a shred of evidence for and which indirectly lays blame for Ian's suicide with Dan and I really don't think you should be writing stuff like that here or elsewhere, it is in complete contradiction with the facts.

If you think that you have the right of way here then by extension HN should from now on be renamed suicide watch and each and every twitter post about someone who writes they want to commit suicide should get top billing and be sticky until the person is tied to a stretcher somewhere.

Try not to be a dick around here, it really does not help, for one it ruins the atmosphere and for another you are causing a thing that hurts to cause even more pain.

And if you can't keep the bile out of your comments then simply don't comment at all.


Ian was well capable of reaching out to his friends all by himself, he also was capable of using twitter (which he did) and his cell phone. HN is not the place to alert your friends if you have suicide on the brain, in fact it is probably the last thing you should count on since there is absolutely no guarantee it will be posted or that some friend of yours would see it in time.

I'm not myopic for seeing that Ian had many more ways of reaching out to others than asking people aready reading this twitter feed to post it to HN which could then possibly result in someone close to him reaching him in time to make a difference. That's patently absurd reasoning.

> Ad absurdum argument. Ian's posts weren't the attention seeking behavior of some high-school drama hound, this was clearly a legitimate meltdown by the founder of Debian, someone who was a part of this community, not someone random as you suggest.

Yes, but that does not make the community responsible, as much as you would apparently like.

> That's why the post about his tweets was being upvoted -- people recognized there was a legitimate issue that needed attention.

Well, an 'upvote' is not giving attention to an issue, it is just a way to express support. Attention to an issue is to figure out who is close enough to Ian to go and do something about it. And I notice that nobody did, not you nor anybody else for that matter. Given how connected the world is do you really believe that HN is now so important that in matters of life-or-death the right thing to do is to ask for a post on HN rather than to contact someone close? Do you actually believe that none of Ians twitter followers would be better placed to make the link? Do you know Ians HN handle?

> Then the Dang intentionally removed the post, blinding everyone to what was happening simply because they didn't want people to "gawk."

No, he didn't blind anybody. If you were a friend of Ians then you should not rely on HN to make the difference in situations like these. It is an absolutely horrible thing to attempt to make that link. Of course it nicely fits in with your inner narrative that someone needs to be blamed here and you've figured that should be Dan because he killed that thread. But having been in Dans shoes in the past makes me a bit more knowledgeable about how these things go and the fact of the matter is that in the past those threads stayed up and people still killed themselves, and some threads may have contributed to the person killing themselves (see the thread where Aaron Swartz asked for help). Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

> That's pretty reprehensible, in my opinion, and though I'm sure it wasn't intended that way, actions have consequences.

That action did not have the consequence you tie to it. If you read Ians words carefully he explicitly asked all his friends NOT TO STOP HIM. So how come you are so clever about this that you feel that it is right to blame a complete outsider just because a forum thread was deleted. Ians life or death did not hinge on that in a way linked strongly enough that you can make these outrageous claims.

Obviously Ian was not thinking rationally, which is precisely why his tweets needed -- and would have received -- attention.

He was part of this community. He was in crisis and it was obvious. People would have wanted to help.

You don't talk someone down from a ledge by turning your back on them.

That's all I'll say on the matter.

> Obviously Ian was not thinking rationally, which is precisely why the post about his tweets needed -- and would have received -- attention.

You don't know that for sure so you can't make the link.

All I note is that you didn't do anything when it mattered and now you're quick with the knife of blame.

> He was part of this community.

So are you, and yet, if you posted a bunch of stuff on Twitter about how you were going to kill yourself and ask for having that posted on HN it would neither be the appropriate venue nor would it be productive to have your inner mental health discussed ad nauseam by strangers. Trying to rebuild your reputation afterwards would have been a lot harder because those HN discussions tend to hang around just about forever, long after you came to your senses again.

> He was in crisis and it was obvious. People would have wanted to help.

So, who were those people that would have wanted to help? I don't see anybody here saying that if they had heard about this in time through HN they would have hopped over to Ians place to stop him from doing his deed. You really just keep on adding speculation and claiming it is factual.

> You don't talk someone down from a ledge by turning your back on them.

Well, you don't talk someone down from a ledge either by standing on the ground next to the fallen body and blaming random bystanders who - conveniently - decided to stop the public discussion of the persons mental state as though that is some kind of spectator sport.

> That's all I'll say on the matter.

You felt the need to start this subthread, it is interesting that you should choose to bow out of it now, it would have been better if you had not said anything at all.

If the facts of the case interest you this zdnet article seems to be the most informed:


It does not in any way shape or form list a lack of HN involvement as a contributing cause of death.

> nor would it be productive

Not everything is about productivity.


I'm not 'fucking up' anybody. Get lost.


Suit : anybody I don't like.

For the record: I've never in my life worn a suit and there is absolutely nobody dead because 'a fucking PC techno-facist censored a thread'.

Just like edw519 isn't responsible for Aaron Swartz killing himself neither is DanG responsible for Ian Murdock.

You and all the other backseat drivers in this thread that have never in their lives had a visible and public role should take a hike.

Remember: it was precisely the sort of harrassment that Ian Murdock had to sustain that eventually caused him to flip, there is quite a bit of evidence that one of the catalysts in this whole saga is that someone kept on railing on debian.

DanG has taken exceptional risk in being publicly visible as the moderator of HN, he does so in an incredibly transparent fashion, comments on when and why decisions of all kinds are made and is working extremely hard to make HN a better place. To see a bunch of assholes use any and all opportunity to second guess the decisions and to make personal attacks including yours is proof positive that no good deed will go unpunished.

Your 'prior presence' does not excuse you from this deplorable behavior, you're just another lurker and an anonymous coward to me, your account creation date has fuck all to do with your degree of involvement in HN.

And if you really believe this place is run by suits and techno facists then you probably don't want any part of this anyway.


> This was the final straw. I'm out


> and I'll be taking the true hackers with me.

Not this one.

That's a ridiculous thing to say.

His tweets were still available; did he get any help from that? From what I saw he got trolled.


All links on HN that are deleted say "[dead]" so it's just an unfortunate coincidence.

It says "[flagged]" for me, FWIW.

Is this at all related to his statement on suicide and police brutality? What was the cause of death?

Source: http://techaeris.com/2015/12/28/debian-founder-ian-murdocks-...

It's a good bet that, when a young person in a highly-developed country dies and the announcements about them do not give a cause of death, they killed themselves. Given that he was white and had announced an intention to kill himself the night before, it's almost an open-and-shut case.

This seems to have unfolded rapidly and the details are very light so I would like to suggest that no, this is not 'almost' an open and shut case.

Its a possibility certainly but its also possible that the cause of death is not yet know, and wont be until an autopsy is carried.

Given other people are talking about other erratic behaviour over the last few days then an aggressive brain tumour or bleeding into the brain would also be possibilities. Best not to jump to conclusions too early (the same is also true for those suggesting police brutality as the cause)


>> What happens in a case like this where the police are possibly suspects in a death?

Normally if someone dies while in the custody of police there is automatically an inquest as to what happened. If there's evidence of mistreatment or abuse, the District Attorney can then decide to send the case to a grand jury and let them decide whether they should charge the officers involved. The DA can also indict and charge the officers without a grand jury. In most cases, DA's send their cases to the grand jury in effect to "test" how strong the evidence is they have.

In the Ferguson case, the grand jury waded through thousands of documents and decided the conflicting witnesses testimonies and physical evidence made them decide not to indict officer Wilson for the shooting.

Even if the DA decides not to prosecute (for whatever reason), then the family can hire an attorney and file a wrongful death case (violation of constitutional rights) as a civil suit against the city. Civil cases also have a lot lower burden of proof or what we call "the preponderance of the evidence" meaning its more likely something than not something happened.

This is a fairy tale. In reality, municipalities don't go much out of their way to uncover their own wrongdoings. It is fallacy to assume that this would be handled properly.

You mean a case that you just pulled out of thin air?

I don't disagree with this, it was a response to someone saying that it is an open and shut case wrt suicide.

That's pretty conspiratorial. I think its a safe bet your alternative idea is not anything like what happened. Do we even know if there were any police. It's a very sad situation but there is no information and not clear if there is any investigation planned.

This is terrible. I met Ian when we worked at the same company for a bit, and he was a great man by my interactions with him. Just heartbreaking to read.

He went on a tirade the other night on Twitter after what he reported was a run-in with the police. The tweets got more incoherent as the evening went on, but it read like he was backing down from suicide. Since the linked release doesn't say that and it looks like he closed his Twitter, I guess we don't really know what went down. He also doesn't seem to have published the promised blog post. What a shame. I wish he'd found the help he was looking for.

Really sad ...

Ian was one of the kindest folks I've ever met. The tweets leading up to his death are troubling and I hope we get some answers http://pastebin.com/yk8bgru5

>Michael Morisy filed this request with the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States of America.

>From: Michael Morisy

>Subject: None

>To Whom It May Concern:

>This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

>A copy of the FBI's files on computer programmer Ian Murdock (28 April 1973 – 28 December 2015).


Is it common practice for the govt to release FBI files on people? Or, if it is, with this little delay?

Once someone dies anyone can submit a FOIA request for their records.

Super sad to hear about this, as the Debian project has been hugely influential on my life. (It's the reason I went to MIT and became a software engineer.) Rest in peace, Ian.

My involvement in Debian is part of what helped me become a programmer too. I didn't go to college for CS, so finding a group of smart people to learn from was hugely influential.

I have little to say about this.

It's incredibly sad, whatever happened. I've felt the loss from many people in my life leaving too soon. We all have. Sometimes it's suicide, sometimes it's a car accident. Sometimes it's cancer. Sometimes people just get old and die. Sometimes people get mugged by thugs. Or Police. Maybe there isn't a difference between the last two.

But it doesn't matter right now. The process of justice is a slow-moving wheel. Sometimes it doesn't move at all. Sometimes it moves the wrong way.

For better or worse, that wheel is not in the hacker community's hands. Keep records, remember what you saw happening. But it's far too soon to expect anything concrete.

Instead, I think it's reasonable to think of what the family has to say. At least for right now.

So I offer this:

I use Ian Murdock's work every day at my job and every evening when I'm just playing around with stuff.

Debian has been the single most important technology that propelled and directed my career and my creative life since I started creating things with technology.

This person, who I never had the opportunity to meet, affected my life in amazing ways by giving me tools I never had and didn't have the ability to imagine.

Thank you, Ian Murdock.

My heart goes out to his friends and family. The pain he was in must have been unbearable. I'm so sad that he felt this was the best way to find peace. It's a great loss to the community. hugs

Very sad.

We all owe him a debt of gratitude for the creation of Debian, the most widely used GNU/Linux distribution today.[1]

Does anyone here actually know what happened?


[1] Ubuntu is based on Debian: https://www.debian.org/misc/children-distros

For the sad details, click: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10803924

Even though I've used Debian in the Linux 2.x days, I'll always associate Ian with OpenSolaris and the opening of DTrace and ZFS first and foremost. Thanks for all the great gifts you gave us, Ian.

Thanks to him, Solaris now has a proper packaging system with dependency handling and repositories.

I too have suffered from abuse from cops here in the bay area - specifically the city of Alameda, and one cop in particular.

I also suffer from depression, and have struggled with inappropriate thoughts due to my experience with police.

It is sad that he has apparently actually committed suicide - as I would have loved to join him in his fight against state abuse.

I wish I would have had the opportunity to work with / support this effort.

Hopefully there will be further opportunities to fight against state abuse in the coming days.

Sorry to hear that would you be willing to describe the abuse in more detail?

Without giving too much detail in public, police were called to my house and I had just finished putting my children to bed. The officer was talking to me and then asked me to step on the porch, after doing so they had asked if I had been drinking - I said yes I had wine with my dinner, why.

They then arrested me and refused to tell me why - their exact words were "you know why" and took me to jail. I then had to bail out of jail and upon doing so, found out they arrested me for "being drunk in public". For drinking wine, hours prior, in my OWN HOME.

I went to court and no charges were filed and the whole thing was dismissed.

But not after I lost several thousand to bail, and I had no recourse at all.

There is a lot more to the story of this particular officer but this arrest was exactly as stated above.

It almost cost me my job as well, had I not had the ability to bail out. All for nothing.

If you drop all charges / do not charge someone with anything then the police should have to not only pay all my bail feed back, but I should be able to go after them for false arrest.

This is not an admonishment of you, but a reminder to everyone. Don't ever talk to the police. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc

Ugh. Assholes. The tactics you describe remind me of Matt Taibbi's book "The Divide", where he recounts the experience of people in NYC being asked to empty their pockets (which the police shouldn't do unless they had probable cause) only to be charged with "possessing narcotics in public" when they found they had a joint.

The existence of such a loophole, and the fact that the police knowingly uses it with impunity, is evidence of how fucked up the system is. They are supposed to be there to protect us, not to entrap you for whatever power game they are playing.

Good advice.

I had a non-tactical, non-aggressive knife in my pocket and ended up getting arrested. No previous trouble with the law... I was minding my own business on the subway.

Handful of court dates, a few grand and community service. For a tool.

I have a friend in the NYPD. One of the tips he gave me is never empty your pockets if asked to by the police if you are carrying contraband. He said you should just point to the pocket that contains said contraband and tell them that it's in there.

So the cop empties your pocket and you get arrested. Same result as far as I can tell.

In NYC, mere possession of less than 25g of marijuana is just a ticket (first offense, anyway). Displaying it in public can get you actually arrested versus just being issued a summons. While again, for a first offense, one can avoid any real long lasting consequences, the latter situation can be very expensive once you factor in lawyer fees. The former will cost you at most about $150.

"police were called to my house and I had just finished putting my children to bed"

Understand that you don't want to give details but can you say why they were called to your house in the first place?

Perhaps I could be wrong, but isn't bail returned when one successfully shows up in court until the matter is adjudicated regardless of the outcome? The only way bail is forfeited is when the defendant skips out on returning to court.

The bail was $25,000 - I don't have that in cash. I had to get a bond, and pay out of pocket $2,500.

Also, they keep bail, assuming I had paid it in cash in full, for "a year and a day"

The cops retain the "right" to charge you for 1 year.

I am sure the cops and the bondsmen have a sweet deal going.

If he used a bail bondsman there is typically a 10% fee (e.g. bail is $25,000; you pay the bondsman $2,500 and get bailed out)

I love Debian, and all OSS/Linux stuff, and I'm just really really sad. I don't know why people want to speculate on all the twitter stuff. I'm just gonna be sad, and drink some whiskey, and make a toast to a guy who made my life, and millions of other people's lives richer by what he gave the world. To you, Ian. May you find peace and rest. Thank you.

Well said.

I'm Debian user and very grateful for all the wonderful things that Debian enabled, thanks Ian for creating it.

It's very sad when people pass away like that. Aaron Swartz and Ilya Zhitomirskiy also come to mind.

Condolences to his family and loved ones. Words can never truly describe the feeling of losing someone this way.

My thoughts go to his friends and family. I don't want to speculate on what happened I don't think it is the time right now. Thanks for all your contribution Ian Murdock.

His other motivations for his act aside, the deeper societal (as opposed to personal) issue here is police abuse.

This incident shows nicely how this kind of thing can happen to anyone -- even a nice person (as say all who worked with/knew him), with no violent past, having built a huge community project, a family, working in a prominent startup, etc. White, too.

We should probably reserve judgment until more information comes to light. It's possible he was having a mental breakdown and did not have an accurate conception of reality.

He says he was given bail, which implies he was arrested. Arrests are usually a matter of public record. Is there any data on the record supporting this?

Vinelink.com has records of the arrest.

"they beat the shit out of me twice, then charged me $25,000 to get out of jail for battery against THEM" @imurdock https://archive.is/KTesC#selection-3101.1-3101.103

Please let's not dig up links or make speculations about what happened.

He was the founder of the Debian project, let's remember him for that or other contributions he's made to the tech community.

Debian has grown to be one of the most well known and popular Linux distribution, used in production, in the cloud, as the base for SteamOS, Ubuntu and other projects. It is and was a major part of what made Linux popular.

On the contrary: let's dig up all the links we can so that we can find out who was responsible, and prevent it from ever happening again. Just before he died, Ian had said he was going to devote the rest of his life to fighting police brutality: http://pastebin.com/dX3VSPkM

Not only would we dishonor his memory by not digging up links and making speculations about what happened (did he commit suicide, possibly due to a brain injury from the police beatings? Or was he killed by the police? If so, by whom?), we are also putting ourselves in danger. What happened to Ian could happen to any of us.

Of course we should be sensitive to his family and friends and not traumatize them further. But that's no excuse for leaving the criminals who did this to walk free and kill more of us.

Don't "wait for the family to release more information". Find the information yourself, in Google Cache, on Twitter, wherever you can. It may not be there tomorrow or the day after. And don't wait until people are no longer paying attention. That's a losing public relations strategy. Seize the day.

I should probably post this on a throwaway... but this hit somewhat close to home.

A few years ago I was going through a very tough time. I lived in the UK at the time and went to california for a meetup. After even more personal crap happened, I went on a walk seriously considering suicide.

Kept trying to call friends, family, nobody picked up, it was the hardest day of my life to get through. Next thing I knew I found myself on top of a tall building at which point I had the clarity to figure out I really should talk to a suicide hotline.

Unfortunately I didn't know the number and internet abroad was impossible to get at the time, so I ended up calling 911. Funny that, it turns out when you do that in california, you are considered a "danger to yourself" and must be arrested.

Still I figured it was the better solution and let the cops take me. I ended up in handcuffs for the day, was roughened up quite a bit, treated like cattle until I was sent off to a ward for 48 hours. My belongings were all taken and I was not allowed to call anyone overseas (where the only people I knew resided). When I pleaded for help, I was threatened to be put on indefinite hold.

Everything I remember about this sucks. It's honestly a miracle I got through it alive - CA tried very hard to help me kill myself. Had to fake being happy and well and all of this being a terrible mistake to be released when the time was up. I later got much better, higher quality help when back in Europe.

I learned one thing: Don't have mental health issues in the US. And if you do, don't talk to the cops. Never talk to the cops.

> I found myself on top of a tall building at which point I had the clarity to figure out I really should talk to a suicide hotline. Unfortunately I didn't know the number and internet abroad was impossible to get at the time,

I'm really sorry you had that experience. And I'm so so glad that you didn't die that night.

I wanted to let you know that there is work currently happening (in the UK) to prevent death by suicide from tall buildings. For example, in Gloucestershire we're trying to get multi-story car parks to put up signs for the Samaritans as a short term measure. Longer term we want to try to improve safety of the building, perhaps though planning control, or through asking owners to retro-fit fences.

Alongside that we're trying to improve health services to be more responsive for people at risk of suicide, especially men.

(If anyone has any ideas about useful suicide prevention measures please feel free to email me via the email in my profile).

> so I ended up calling 911. Funny that, it turns out when you do that in california, you are considered a "danger to yourself" and must be arrested.

This is something about mental health that people often don't understand: sometimes it's provided by police in a police van or a police cell. They have very little training in MH. In the UK things are slowly changing. The police have a power under the MH act to detain people and take them to a place of safety to be assessed by doctors. In many parts of the country that place of safety is a police cell, but some areas have specialist Section 136 suites. (Section 136 of the MH Act).

Thank you for having the courage to speak about your experiences. It sounds like a difficult time was made very much worse - it sounds awful.

You mention the samaritans - those people are awesome and they're the ones who helped me through the tough times when I came back home.

If anyone is looking for volunteer work in the UK, especially if you have people skills, check them out.

You sound like you work in mental health. Can I ask you who you work for?

I don't work, I'm an ex-service user, currently an "expert by lived experience". I do some "service user participation work" in Gloucestershire. This is for 2gether NHS Foundation Trust (the mental health trust for Gloucestershire and Herefordshire), for the Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, and for Public Health.

This guy Michael Brown (absolutely no relation to Ferguson) an Inspector in the UK west midlands police force has been steadily writing many intelligent things over the years about the intersection of mental health care and policing.



I'm living in Reading, U.K. and have seen these signs from The Samaritans in one of the towns tallest car parks.

I'm originally from Gloucester so appreciate what you are doing for that part of the country.

This is even the case in Canada though. I tried to overdose when I was 16 and someone found me. The cops were unfortunately first on the scene and started screaming at me, calling me all sorts of horrible things. When the ambulance arrived they then handcuffed me to the ambulance bed while I was getting my stomach pumped. I could barely move at that point. The cops are poorly trained and incompetent. I agree, never talk to the cops.

I was in an accident and emergency ward on a friday night in a central London hospital recently. Something that took me by surprise was the number of patients there in the company of the police. They were there to be treated for injuries, rather than mental health issues, but i was impressed by the conduct of the policeman attached to the very drunk guy in the bed next to me; despite the fact that the drunk guy was screaming and threatening people, the policeman patiently tried to get him to calm down, at one point promising him a cup of tea if he behaved himself, and then actually delivering on that promise.

I don't know if that was typical. I don't know if policemen treat drunks differently to the mentally ill. And god knows the Metropolitan Police are not exactly famed for their kind and gentle treatment of the denizens of the city. But in at least one case, a guy was okay.

London police has a very good reputation. I've never had any dealings with them (despite many visits to London, a nice reflection on how they typically don't bug you without a reason) but from the people that I know that live there in general it seems like they actually take the 'protect and serve' bit to heart, contrary to many other police forces the world over.

While I'd much rather deal with the Met than any US police force, they're hardly universally loved - e.g. the riots after the death of Mark Duggan.

It helps that they're mostly not armed, apart from all the guys standing around with MP5s defending public spaces from terrorists.

Duggan was a self confessed members of a drug dealing gang (Star Gang), was considered dangerous, and had a gun is his car when killed.

The Guardian were rightly forced by the PCC to retract their article that claimed Duggan was 'unarmed' and should feel ashamed of themselves for helping stoke that fire.

> London police has a very good reputation.

Maybe internationally, but they're pretty dodgy for a UK police force.

That's probably because the UK has far, far, far, far higher standards for its police than the US. Even the worst police in the UK are far better than the police here in the US.

Can't say about the Met, but Thames Valley Police have been quite good as far as I can tell.

They're trying to change how drunk people are treated in emergency departments. "Brief psycho-social interventions" can reduce the number of ED attendances.


Canada has some of the worst and some of the best police officers that I've ever seen. City/local police: not so hot. RCMP on the whole probably the best police force that I've had contact with.

Often times, same dichotomy in the US. State Patrols are professionals, locals are bubbas.

Experiences differ. Local LEOs often play roles in crime prevention or investigation. In the states I've been recently, the state patrols are strictly revenue agencies. Life for the public would improve by their absence.

Long story short, a vengeful ex-girlfriend had me put in 72 hour mandatory psych evaluation twice because she didn't want me to break up with her. She claimed I was threatening to kill myself when that wasn't the case.

The first time, I freaked out and had to be held down by a group of people, including an orderly that purposely hurt me and left a large bruise on my shin after pushing it downwards against a metal bar off of a hospital bed. I was shot up with morphine to calm me down and then strapped in to a bed - and all I recall after that is waking up in the morning to someone staring at me from the door way. Supposedly, action was taken against the orderly - but I have no guarantee or follow up on that. Additionally, when the police originally arrived at my apartment, two officers searched it looking for a weapon (they found a steak knife that had fallen next to the stove which they questioned me about - I don't even remember it falling there - could've been there for a while) - I am pretty sure they had no right to search my place, but I could be wrong.

The second time, I was forced to take double the dose of the medication I normally took for anti-anxiety/depression which actually caused me to hallucinate while I was locked up. This 72-hour hold actually lasted much longer because the staff psychiatrist left for an extended Thanksgiving weekend, so it came out to 5 days.

It truly worries me how bad of an experience this was. I met some interesting people with interesting issues during these two brief experiences - but I don't see how they were being provided with the help they actually needed.

Never call the cops. Police due two things: apply force and file paperwork. If you have a medical or person problem, the police are not who to call. Sadly, that meand you can't call 911 either, you have to find the phone number for MEDICAL support.

so 911 is not police, fire or ambulance in the US?

what do you ring if you need firefighters or a doctor?

It's all of those things, but since we have an excess of police and not of those other public servants it's typically the cops who arrive first. Even the cops who wouldn't interfere with paramedics at work are likely to harass people who need paramedics in their absence.

911 is police, fire, or ambulance. But which combination shows up is decided by the dispatcher, not the caller, so you can't call 911 if you want to be sure that police won't respond.

This.So this. Those of us who knew Ian and cared about him have our own responsibility to know what happened.

There is no situation that the cops can't make worse.

Don't call the cops. Don't ever ever call the cops.


No, you can control a regex if you're very careful.

I've got an idea if someone really wants to go on a hunt... This might seem incredibly nosy, but I don't think it would be too personal - check RadioReference for his city, they archive police scanner feeds, if you pay them a little, you can access the archives.

If something happened and he was having some sort of mental health or drug problem, hopefully that would be mentioned, if something really did go down with the cops, you might hear a bit of that too. Might be interesting to see what exactly happened to him, just don't go jumping to any conclusions and starting witch hunts. This is crazy enough as it is and probably won't lead to a full picture in any case, but it might shed some light.

I can tell you that the police don't treat the mentally ill very well. They are not trained in helping out the mentally ill.

I got a friend who is mentally ill and is homeless sometimes, police beat him up and arrested him for being at a McDonald's on his Macbook. He was in jail for a year, gave him the wrong psyche meds, kept delaying his preliminary hearing until he had to plead guilty to get out of jail. Charged with threaten with intent to terrorize and only the police officer's word against his for evidence.

I am mentally ill myself, I became disabled in 2003. In the IT industry one has to keep the mental illness a secret or else they lose their job or end up not being hired for jobs. Basically my career was over when I developed a mental illness.

I can tell by Ian's tweets that he was not in his right mind. I hope his family files a lawsuit against the police, because they basically forced him into suicide for whatever they did.

>I can tell you that the police don't treat the mentally ill very well. They are not trained in helping out the mentally ill.

The problem isn't training. You don't need training to be nice to people and not beat them senseless, nor do you need to be a genius to see when someone is having mental problems, or to know that being an asshole to someone who's clearly suicidal isn't helpful.

The problem is that the police in the USA are largely evil. There's no other explanation for it. You have to be an evil person to enjoy beating other people, not to mention shooting them in the back and other violent things that our police do to people on a daily basis.

This. I'm sorry to say that I agree. What is really astonishing is the low quality of the police forces in cities in the United States which pay police very very well (when all of their benefits are taken into account).

If he was in a city of any decent sized police force, it's likely that the authorities were dispatched via a mobile data terminal -- and you wouldn't hear anything about it over the air.

If the pastebinned tweets I've seen are really his then he was clearly unhinged when he made them. Whether that is due to head trauma or if the problems with the police came about because he was already having issues, I have no idea.

Either way, while I totally understand his family's request for privacy, I do wish as a culture we felt more comfortable discussing things like this when they happen instead of basically all trying to sweep it under the rug.

People shouldn't be shamed for having mental health issues, but neither should we expend so much effort on pretending like we don't have something of an epidemic going on in this area these days.

He sounded extremely angry, but unhinged isn't the word I'd use. If what he said was true, he had every right to be extremely angry.

Nobody is trying to sweep anything under the rug but Christ, the man has been dead for less than 48 hours. I don't think giving people a few days or a week to process it and grieve is an unreasonable proposition.

It is probably not so much discussing health issues as them having lost a loved one and don't want the Internet probing them for questions about him.

You make a bunch of speculation, use slurs ("he was clearly unhinged") to talk about him, and then wonder why people ask for privacy?

At least from a .uk idiomatic POV (or at least from mine), 'unhinged' is a description of a potentially temporary mental state (hence 'unhinged when' making sense as a conjugation) rather than an attempt to attack the mentally ill. I'm not fond of the speculation, though, but can find nothing to say about it beyond that that wouldn't merely be adding my own speculation and thereby exacerbating that aspect.

Or: You can apply the principle of charity to somebody's choice of words and still critique their point, and that often works out better in terms of constructive results.

Mental illness is primarily characterized by temporary states. Personally I don't think you can be "unhinged" without being mentally ill. It's better to use language that more accurately characterizes the situation, than something which is just a synonym for crazy.

> Personally I don't think you can be "unhinged" without being mentally ill

I consider that attitude to be deeply unfortunate and to be unfair both to the temporarily unhinged and to the long term mentally ill. If you had a term that was an alternative to unhinged that didn't make your socially conditioned prejudices twitch, I'd have preferred you shared it rather than simply attack both groups for using language that they consider to be accurate (because then you wouldn't've managed to insult most of my friends in one tone deaf unconstructive reply)

I'm long term mentally ill. You don't know what you're talking about.

Well, of the six long term mentally ill people I've asked if there was a better term now, I'm at zero suggestions and all of them except you said 'unhinged' was great.

So unless you're actually going to suggest something, I'll be keeping with the term they're happy with, I'm afraid.

That is exactly why I tried to admonish people in a top post to avoid doing this. Maybe it is just me being naive, but it seemed an "in memoriam" article would not be the place for this, and was hoping people would instead choose to share something positive about his life. But you know, internet happens...

I read the article, which says nothing about the cause of death. I decided to check HN comments, and I am grateful for various interesting facts about Ian, his life and accomplishments. But still, the main question on my mind is - what the fuck did happen? Maybe it's a bad part of being human, being curious about the reason for the tragedy. I suppose others also feel like this, and so speculations always start quickly.

He said on Twitter that police beat him up once, and then a second time after following him home. I hope there is a real investigation, this is enraging.

In the UK, which is a common law country, the local coroner would be involved with any death that was not expected (i.e. not an older person or someone who is terminally ill and under medical care) or in which there are suspicious circumstances. That process may involve a police investigation and, independently of that, there can be an inquest. Inquests have quite a history in the case of deaths in police custody in the UK, as a result of police action, or where there is some doubt about the probity of the police investigation (Google Hillsborough Stadium, Mark Duggan, Ian Tomlinson).

I'd appreciate if any US residents can comment on the procedures locally and I realise that procedure may vary in different states.

My first thought was 'another cancer death' but it appears to be more involved. The phrasing of the request from the family suggests to me that the situation may be more complex. I was reading this guy's blog just yesterday, odd times.

A suicide or homicide will almost certainly trigger a post-mortem. In the US the quality of the process varies widely by state. Some states have medical examiners, who are appointed and generally expert clinicians. Other states have a coroner system where the coroner is an elected position. Unsurprisingly states where the latter is true tend to have worse results.

The situation is often worse that that. The suicide to whom I was most closely related wasn't investigated by anyone. (Self-inflicted GSW, but still...) A medical examiner's assistant pronounced the death, then left and was never seen again. (Later the funeral home people arrived.) The medical examiner for our county lives 70 miles away and basically never comes to the county. When later we had to prove certain circumstances to certain parties, we were hampered by the fact that not only was there no completed paperwork, but no one could be found whose responsibility it is to complete paperwork. An actual coroner would be a big improvement in this county, but apparently that's an expense we can't afford.

Can the coroner do anything with legal force, or only inspect the body and file a report?

Yes, a whitewash would never happen in the UK.


Yes, I should have said 'inquests can give people another avenue in some cases'. And I should also have pointed out that the process can sometimes be very complex and take decades [1].

I wasn't trying to claim any kind of superiority for the system as operated in England/Wales. I was wondering aloud about what is supposed to happen in US/relevant state, so that I can track subsequent news, and I have the answer now from user lstyls.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Stephen_Lawrence

In the case you cite, it is worth noting that the Hutton Inquiry replaced an inquest, which is very unusual.

USA doesn't have an independent coroner with legal power like that. Police and District Attorney (local prosecutor) investigate deaths, including investigating themselves.


I was pretty sure that the one and only job of a Coroner in the U.S. was to report cause of death.

I was also under the impression that if cause of death is not natural, then the local authorities are supposed to open an investigation.

In Canada too. In Ontario, any death involving police automatically triggers an investigation by a police of police (Special Investigations Unit). Really shocking cases can lead to a public inquiry in parliament.

Of course we need to investigate but don't jump to any conclusions and start yelling about police brutality.

If he had mental health problems then police can easily be perceived as they are after him and any attempt to restrain you will be seen as violence.

It is really tragic but if it likely to be police brutality then the family will pursue it. If they don't pursue any action then my guess is that Ian had a mental illness and this is just a series of very unfortunate events due to that.

I today's USA, I see no reason to assume the police story is more reliable than a potentially mentally ill citizen's story. When video evidence isn't destroyed, t tends to point to police brutality.

> "If he had mental health problems then police can easily be perceived as they are after him and any attempt to restrain you will be seen as violence."

> "i had to have swtitches"

Yes, the cops will give themselves a complete and impartial investigation like they always do in US. /s

I meant to say, let's fight criminals tomorrow or wait for the family to release more information.

Also please note this message on Debian's site from his family:

"His family has asked for privacy during this difficult time and we very much wish to respect that."


> let's fight criminals tomorrow

Given that Ian's twitter pointed the finger at law enforcement for inciting this, what you are really saying is let's give the police time to cover up the details of what happened, obscure or destroy evidence, recruit prosecutors to their defense, and wait for months or years while an alleged internal investigation occurs.

A close relative of mine committed suicide. It was a difficult time and I empathize with the family's situation. However, assuming Ian's twitter posts bear some relation to reality and are not pure hallucinations, then the family is wrong to ask for privacy and space. To do so is to sacrifice justice for an imagined peace and to grant an undeserved mercy to those responsible.

To imply that the family is wrong for not wanting to discuss this publicly ~36 hours after it happened is disgusting.

That's not what's being implied. The family can be respected while the culprits are pursued.

You are disgusting for disrespecting his own wishes for justice.

Nobody here is in a position to second-guess his family. We know nothing but what we've read on the Internet.

It's a bit ambiguous from the Debian post, but from the Docker post, it sounds like the request for privacy is a request that media and others leave the family alone personally, i.e. don't show up at their house, ring their phone off the hook, etc., rather than a request that nobody discuss the circumstances of the death publicly.

> If you would like to share your thoughts or condolences, Ian's family and the Docker family appreciate you sharing them by posting a comment on this page. Additionally, Ian's family has requested that well-wishers and press respect their privacy and direct all inquiries through Docker.

I don't think it takes a lot of imagination to understand that in this day and age privacy could also mean online privacy.

Years later his children will search for their father's name, find this and instead of people remembering positive contributions to the community, they'll find people digging in the dirt, looking for signs of drug use, calling death threats for cops, revenge, mental issues, speculate stuff without facts in general.

It would seem to me at least giving that statement from the family the benefit of the doubt instead of going for a legalistic interpretation "Well they didn't explicitly say not to discuss stuff online, so go ahead everyone, start guessing, send FOIA requests, call him unhinged etc..."

Red states are wrong about many issues but gun control isn't one of them. Cops think twice when they know there's an equalizer in the equation. If you live in a part of the country where the populace is disarmed, don't be surprised that police are beating the shit of you, or terrorists are targeting your gun-free zones. Exercise your 2nd amendment rights, and open carry that AR15 with 30 round magazines proudly.

> Cops think twice when they know there's an equalizer in the equation.

What exactly do you mean by that?

The reason I'm asking is that everything I've read or heard from law enforcement acquaintances is that cops are much more likely to draw their weapon in situations where they think guns are present. That is, they might be less likely to "beat the shit [out] of you", but they are much more likely to shoot you. If a cop is bent on subduing me or doing me harm, I'd much rather they rough me up than shoot me.

Also, I just have to say that if you feel the only thing standing between you and police brutality is your gun, you must inhabit a very different mental space than I do. I grew up with guns (in rural Alabama), and I'd probably have one now, if my wife weren't against having one with a child in the house. I can think of many reasons to own a gun. Protecting myself from the police is not one of them.

I really don't get people who think their guns will protect them from the government. Ultimately we, the people, are the government. What protects us from overreach and abuse of power these days is strong encryption and better transparency laws.

Crime is at an all-time low these days, and very few people hunt for food. You're probably much more likely to be killed or assaulted by a cop than anyone else, so it seems to make perfect sense that someone would want a gun to protect them from the cops.

Stats show you're much more likely to be killed by someone you know, not a random cop walking the beat.

Everyday crime prevention and hunting for food aren't the only other reasons to own a gun. They can be used for sport, like target shooting. And home protection doesn't just mean stopping a home invasion. For example, I've lived through hurricanes where my community was without electricity for multiple days, and I've seen looting firsthand. In that type of situation, having a gun can be a beneficial deterrent.

Honestly, I find this whole idea of protecting yourself from cops with a gun to be asinine. I'm not saying it would never happen, but in general, the second you pull a gun on a cop you've dramatically increased your chances of getting shot, repeatedly. Any other cop who comes on the scene will shoot first and ask questions later.

I don't have hard stats to back that up, but I do know that if you get into a confrontation with a cop, your best bet is to practice de-escalation techniques. Be calm and respectful until their adrenaline levels have dropped. Mentioning or drawing a weapon will escalate the situation.

Heh, pulling out deadly weapons to scare off looters? That's such an overreaction. They're people, and at worst they're thieves. Nothing in that deserves having a weapon fired or pointed at you.

Not sure if you're being sarcastic, having a hard time interpreting your tone. I agree though, shooting at looters to scare them off would be an overreaction, and I was raised to never point a gun at a human (or animal) unless you intend to shoot them.

What I remember is my dad, with his shotgun in a pocket/cradle position (muzzle pointed at the sky, a common field carry), going out to talk to people rummaging through the debris in our back yard, collecting tools and supplies blown out of our barn/toolshed, i.e., pretending to be reclaiming their stuff but actually stealing ours.

The normal protocol in that situation is to knock on the door and ask the owner's permission to reclaim your stuff, show them what you think is yours, etc. If somebody is violating that protocol, I think it's okay to take a defensive posture with them. Shooting at them or running out with your gun pointed at them would be a ridiculous overreaction and terribly unsafe.

The rules of engagement are similar. You still want to practice de-escalation techniques. You don't know if one of those boys in your yard (I remember mostly groups of 2-3 older teenagers doing this looting) is carrying a weapon. You don't run out guns blazing, shouting "get off my lawn." You walk out calmly and ask if you can help them find something. You're just trying to communicate that somebody lives here, we see that you appear to be stealing our property, and we have the means to defend our property if necessary. So move along – or explain what you're doing here.

The "or explain yourself" part is important too. It's central to my whole argument really. You don't know somebody's intentions just from looking at them. I remember one incident where a guy was looking for some tarps to cover a big hole in his roof. He appeared to be some rascal taking our shit – and he was, kind of – but it was more like somebody digging through your garbage for scraps to feed his family. So my dad came in and got me, and we spent the next hour pulling some of the plywood off our windows and helping him strap it (precariously) to the back of his ATV.

The difference between interacting with suspected looters and interacting with cops is that cops are agents of the state. If a cop feels threatened, he can give you a lawful order to lie on the ground, surrender your weapon, etc., and if you disobey, you're breaking the law. Now, exactly what constitutes a lawful order versus a "request" is debatable and depends on the situation, but I doubt there's a judge or jury in the US who would question the cop saying he felt legitimately threatened if you draw your weapon or point it at them.

I've seen your post go through substantial edits, so I'm a little wary about replying at all--it might change significantly again. That said...

No, I'm not sarcastic. Bringing out a gun to show people you'll shoot them over possessions is a serious overreaction.

Your story seems to describe a childhood event, and to be honest it sounds like a child's interpretation of the events: things are cast in black-and-white terms with your dad playing the role of the classic "good guy with a gun", there's clear-cut justice where he helps out another family in need, the villains are obviously just villains and thieves. That's all fine, and I have no doubt that you vividly remember these events and that they played out that way.

However, the reality is that, despite what you say, bringing out a gun is an instant escalation-to-the-top technique. Showing someone you're ready to shoot them (and that's exactly what walking up to a stranger with a gun in your hand is doing) is not de-escalation, it's escalation, it's raising the stakes to the highest point.

I mean, they're, in your own words, older teenagers. If they're not supposed to be there, use words! "Hey, that's not your stuff! Go home!" Brandishing a weapon, adding a gun to the mix is dangerous, because immediately and very clearly life is at risk.

If one of those older teenagers thought the same thing--"guns are a good way to go and get my tools back from that crazy guy who's been looting and hauling our stuff back to his barn"--and was walking around with their own gun, what's he or she going to do if some crazy guy with a shotgun comes up and starts yelling at him? All of a sudden, oh shit, the crazy guy's here with his gun and he could point it at me!

Because you're right, you don't know someone's intentions just from looking at them, whether it's the teenagers who you're afraid are picking over your wreckage (your perspective), or the guy who came up to them with a gun in his hand (their perspective).

Yeah, sorry, remembering one event led to other memories bubbling up after the initial post. The only substantial edit was to add the paragraph highlighting the point about perspective, not knowing others' intentions – I think. I haven't edited it since your reply, FWIW.

Anyway, I think I hear what you're saying. Some of it is contextual though, right?

If I were to walk up to one of my neighbors in my little suburban, sidewalked neighborhood with a shotgun, even muzzle-up leaned on my shoulder, that would be atypical for this community, and I agree that would absolutely be interpreted as aggressive, escalating, etc., in this context. I would certainly be leery of a neighbor walking around holding a gun.

However, I grew up in a farming community. It was common to see people driving pickups with guns mounted on a rack in the back of the cab. It was common to see teenagers (myself included) exploring the woods by our house with a .22 rifle hanging from their shoulder or strapped to their bicycle as they rode past our house. If you bumped into a neighbor at the edge of your land, there was a (estimating here) 20% chance they'd have a rifle on them. My point is just that guns were prevalent in that context. So, carrying a gun in that context is not the same as brandishing it (technically to hostilely shake or wave) or indicating that you're ready to shoot someone.

EDIT: But yes, walking up to strangers on your land carrying a gun does carry an implied threat. I'm just saying it's much less of an escalation in that context.

Brandishing a weapon (carrying it openly and aggressively) will get your permit revoked in most states. Showing it, waving it, even mentioning that you are carrying are all classed as brandishing. The accusation of brandishing is often enough to lose the permit.

So the only sure way to carry is concealed. And never mention that you are doing it.

I'm not up on this area of law, as it's been over a decade since I've owned a gun.

Are you saying that carrying/showing/mentioning (let's say non-aggressively) a gun on your own private property can be classified as brandishing? I've never heard that, but I really don't know.

EDIT: Also, what permit are you talking about? I don't know how things are now, but when I was growing up in AL (~20 years ago), you didn't need a permit to own a rifle or carry it on your own land.

Every state does it differently. Some allow open carry, but have a permit for concealed. Some allow concealed unrestricted, but a permit for open. Iowa requires a permit to carry in any way.

I have 3 permits, first Iowa and then two more to cover (most) of the other states. Still can't carry in Illinois or the People's Republic of California.

Not sure about brandishing vs private property. I'd guess anywhere you need a permit, you could be accused of brandishing.

Thanks for clarifying, I appreciate it. I'm always a little wary of big edits on sites that don't show an edit history. (HN devs, why not??)

I agree that context matters. You're describing a different time and place, pretty far removed from the vast majority of Americans now: rural life, probably a couple decades ago.

In 2010, over 80% of us lived in cities. Six years ago, less than one in five of us lived in rural America--now I'm quite sure it's even fewer. The context of "let's walk around with guns" is basically missing from the vast, vast majority of our lives.

Like you said, living in a city, you'd be sketched out if you saw someone with a gun. And, indeed, we see this play out again and again. People going into restaurants with AR-15s, people wandering around neighborhoods with those big guns on their shoulders. Pretty consistently, someone calls the cops, because, in context of "I live in a city" that applies to 80% of us, this is sketchy behavior.

This is what gets me about the people that want to import gun attitudes from another time and place--from what is basically a distant and foreign culture for most of us--into modern city life.

As a thought experiment, let's not say "the rural American landowners who wrote the constitution 250 years ago felt a certain way about guns, so let's keep on going with that". Let's start from "most of us live in cities, what do we want city life to be like?" And it sounds like neither you nor I particularly want to see random people walking around with guns.

Heh, as a good for-example, yesterday I was downtown, at lunchtime, in a crowded part of the downtown area. Lots of food cards, hundreds of people gathered around. Out of nowhere, a mentally disturbed guy started harassing some lady's daughters. A bunch of us immediately started yelling at him to back off, and started putting ourselves physically between him. The dude was obviously mentally ill, but also possibly a threat to someone, just from flailing his limbs around like a crazy dude.

Well, we kept him separated from the lady and her daughters--just with our voices and our bodies--and he continued to have a freakout, yell, and after 2-3 minutes the cops on bikes showed up to keep him contained until, I'm guessing, some cop in a car could haul him to some kind of lockup. I'm sure, if he'd gotten more aggressive, me and a few other people (heh, even some in business suits) would have tackled him and sat on him.

What's scary to me is...what if someone had a gun and thought they'd be a hero? Best case is, they suppress that thought, pretend they don't have a gun, and we get the outcome like we had, with minimal damage to all. Worst case is, they start firing, and either shoot the crazy dude, or even worse, they shoot some bystanders. Odds are, here in the city (where 80% of us work and live), guns won't make ordinary people into heroes, they'll just make tense situations deadly.

Yeah, I really detest the idea that more people carrying guns will make us safer. I mean, just look at how often cops make mistakes. I believe most cops have good intentions, but the urgency of an apparent life or death situation triggers that good ol' fight or flight response and spikes adrenaline. This inevitably leads to accidents and bad judgments in the moment.

The self-reported hit rate for bullets fired from police weapons is only 30-40%, in the US. Some 3rd party estimates put it around 20%. That means at least 60% of bullets fired by cops miss their target – and these people are generally well trained with firearms (if not other parts of policing), usually required to re-certify their marksmanship multiple times a year, etc.

I personally do not want to trust some rando with a gun to a) make the right decision about when lethal force is prudent and b) execute that decision competently.

Anyway, I'm preaching to the choir here. I'm sure gun people can raise counterexamples of where some citizen with a gun saved the day. So, I know I'm just wasting keystrokes.

On that note, I think I'm done with Internet comments for the day. :) Have a happy new year.

Same to you, happy new year!!

How do you know if he will just "rough" you up? Maybe Ian thought the same too. Expecting mercy from a criminal is like hiring a pedo to babysit your kids.

I was pulled over once while carrying and the cop went from asshole to polite in a millisecond once I informed him I was legally carrying at 4 o'clock. Ultimately if a cop is going to draw on me with criminal intentions, then I will defend myself as if he were a criminal.

How do you know he's drawing on you with criminal intentions?

So, you had an experience where you perceived a cop's attitude to change. That's fine. Maybe next time the cop asks you to get out of the car. Maybe he says you match the description of a suspect and tries to handcuff you, confiscate your gun. At what point are you going to draw your gun and defend yourself? It's not like the very, very small percentage of cops who are "criminals" have some flashing sign to alert you. By the time you realize some shit is going down, it's going to be too late.

And who said anything about expecting mercy from a criminal? Do you know any cops? If not, you should make an effort to get to know some, at least the community officer assigned to your neighborhood, if that applies to your locale. Most are decent folks trying to do good. Most are not "criminals".

>Please let's not dig up links or make speculations about what happened.

Why? Seriously asking (I sometimes sneer, but I never troll).

Perhaps the exact things that went through his mind to make this do this are not productive to speculate upon, but the overall incident with the police etc, is a public issue.

The problem with digging/speculation when emotions are high in general:

Person A makes a speculation.

Person B interprets Person A's speculation as the most likely explanation of the situation.

Persons C, D, and E overhear Person B describing Person A's speculation as fact, and start a mob over it. (Person A was wrong, by the way.)

This continues to snowball until people who were originally close to the situation (and are themselves still struggling to put the pieces together) are put through even more unnecessary trauma by complete strangers, in the middle of one of the most upsetting moments of their lives.

The alternative is to wait until the people most directly affected have had time to cope, get affairs in order, and figure out how to adequately convey what's happened to the greater population.

Because we don't know the details. It doesn't seem anyone does. It seems from the previous day something unpleasant thing happened based on his twitter account posts. It seems there was police involved, he used some slurs some found uncharacteristic him, he threatened to kill himself, and that might be a cause of his death.

His family asked for privacy probably because they are trying to deal with this and don't want anyone online or real life to start speculating / discussing or making insinuations (he was already called "unhinged", there is a call to start arresting some cops etc).

Maybe I am being silly wanted to turn this into people trying to say something positive about his life, or his contribution, maybe someone knew him. Everyone probably used or touched Debian in one form or another etc.

But oh well, people want to gawk, speculate, call names, seek revenge without knowing what happened, can't stop it, I tried.

Well, we should at least try to find out what happened. It's the natural thing to do, and the easiest way to do that, is to dig up links related to the matter, so we know the true story.

This is a terrible loss. I've been a Debian user since Bo (1.3) and have interacted with Ian on a number of occasions. RIP

What I'd like to know going forward is what we can do as a community to help when we see this happening. Ian was clearly suffering, and I know that a number of folks did their best to help.

Yet, those efforts were in vain. It occurs to me now that perhaps the community could have done more? Perhaps Twitter could have done more? Perhaps I could have done more? Did HackerNews make the right call in closing that thread? I'm not seeking to assign blame, but to ask what we can do to help the next person.

If there is something more the community can do to help the next person, we should identify and address it. Someone I know likes to say, "bugs in process are like software bugs, we need to file an issue and fix them".

Twitter just yesterday released new policies and procedures for reporting on self-harm and harassment. I'm afraid they may not go far enough, but I'm happy to see some effort there.

Perhaps the time for this conversation is too early, but I look forward to having it when the time is right.

Easiest yes, but hardly the most accurate or sensitive.

I disagree. It seems he might have died fighting for a cause. We might do well to serve his memory by thinking about and understanding his cause. To do otherwise would be to admit that we can change nothing.

Unfortunately we don't have anything to go on - he never wrote he promised blog post, and his thread is gone. It's not our story to tell, and he didn't leave one behind. Anything we do is speculative now. Hopefully he left something for his loved ones that they can share and we can run with.

I think we can stand to wait for those closest to him to release more information when they're ready.

The people closest to him may never have nor look for more information.

One can honour both man and cause by grieving now and avenging later.

> To do otherwise would be to admit that we can change nothing.

HN allows you to post and create new topics. Maybe leave avenging and figuring out the details in a separate discussion?

How about remembering something nice about him or about Debian or other stuff that's not about the exact details how he died (which it seems nobody here is 100% sure of and just goes by twitter posts, and Reddit discussions).

> Please let's not dig up links or make speculations about what happened.

The links that were dug were extremely helpful in putting the context of what happened. I will save my strong words for later. Or other venues. First Aaron, now Ian - two wonderful guys that wanted only to bring openness to world are gone after having brief encounters with the system. Make what you will of that.

You mean, links like archives of his now-removed tweets where he himself is imploring us to investigate what's happened to him?

Nonsense. Absolute nonsense.


Do you think his family would completely ignore any injustice?

What people are saying is that you should take a deep breath before you start harassing people (which is often how these things end up). This could be a mental health issue so please just calm down before you know more.

At this moment probably yes. I bet that family now is totally stunned and just trying to assume the new situation. People in this cases normally are unable to believe in nothing expect the less painful and "nicer" version of the history.

Well downvote it then and move on.

> I can't even imagine the scale of community outrage if this comment were made after Aaron Swartz passing.

I can, they'd call for the same thing in a thread titled "In Memoriam: Aaron Swartz"

> and there is evidence directly from him that he was pushed into it.

You are welcome to start new thread discussing that.

> if evil pushed him to end his own life, then is it good or is it evil that benefits if we fail to demand a full investigation?

This thread is probably not the place to fight the evil. We can fight the evil later, given that we find what/who this evil is. Chances are evil is not going anywhere. It will be there tomorrow.

> do you think there is any possibility of such an investigation without widespread and vocal community outrage?

In general outrage has to be calculated, directed at the right place, and happen at the right time.

Something tells me you don't have any evidence or anything to go on and it will be just guesswork based on twitter comments and Reddit discussions. Even if you have any extra evidence that you have to discuss, ask yourself if this is the right place and time for it.

Agreed completely. There are already murder accusations in this thread it is really not proper.

Excellent points. Hard not to rage at this though. It is beyond distressing.

Don't let rage cloud your judgement. If you want to be useful to whatever cause Ian was fighting for, you have to wait until it is clear what he would like you to do. Right now we know nothing.

Agreed - as much as anyone may want to know the exact reason(s) and or the "true" story...we may never know and while some form of closure is preferred we should avoid trying to figure out ourselves

Again, why not? Citizen (and internet/crowd-sourced) journalism has worked wonders in the past, getting to reveal things that happened etc.

Of course we won't ever be able to read his mind, but we can find much about what happened in the incident before he decided to commit suicide.

Don't forget how Reddit smeared a dead man after Boston.

There's a difference between fighting injustice and speculating based on thin evidence. I want to hear something from witnesses, family members or friends who talked to him in his final days before I start having "theories".

> but the overall incident with the police etc, is a public issue.

I'm not trying to specifically argue about this point of information but we don't even know the whole of that story or if it is even related to this at this time. I'm not saying it is or is not or anything like that. Just that we really don't know anything about what happened (yet and again, if ever).

But, obviously, "that we really don't know anything about what happened" is not an argument against trying to look into what happened.

If anything, it's the prerequisite for wanting to look into what happened.

Well, it appears his arrest was real, not a delusion. This is all the information they had on VINE.


Offender Name: IAN ASHLEY MURDOCK Offender ID/CDCR:608067 Date of Birth:04/28/1973 Age: 42 Race: White Gender: Male

Custody Status: Out of Custody Date: 12/27/2015 Reason:Bonded out

> Why can't I find the offender or court case I'm searching for?


> Registration for notification is not currently available for this offender.

(Highlighting mine in both quotes.)

So much for innocent until proven guilty.

Should there be a public arrest report giving a reason for the arrest too?

I'm mixed posting on this topic as it has degenerated. RIP Ian, God bless you and your family. I pray that they have peace.

The register reports that he was intoxicated and attempting to break in to a house when the police confronted him and he fought back. He got some medical attention and then something similar happened at a neighboring house on the block and he was detained. I think with someone of this much notoriety, the whole story will come out and I suspect it will be sad. In the mean time, he had kids, his family asked for privacy, I think the conspiracy talk is ghoulish.


To clarify, The Register is citing this as reason given by police, but without presenting it as fact or corraborated information.

That link redirects to the home page now, was that the only info?

Search first name "IAN" and last name "MURDOCK" in CA and you will find the page. Yes, the web page is very brief. No more information.


Murdock, it seems had an argument with someone who thought he should have known not to say anything with the police and who was very insensitive about how Murdock felt after (allegedly) being beaten up twice by the police and fined 25K for an assault he didn't commit.

That person also criticised Debian.

But none of the insensitive things said are are responsible for someone killing themselves. Please don't turn this into a witch hunt.

Wow, such a tragic loss. One of the reasons why Linux is to widely popular these days (Debian, Ubuntu, etc.).

Amazing work he did - he already did more than many people does in their entire lifetime. Life is fragile, appreciate it :-( Rest in peace, Ian.

It's not lost on me that I'm reading and writing this on an Ubuntu desktop. Thank you, Ian. RIP.

Found a copy of the odd tweets, sounds like he was going through something awful. Hopefully this will bring attention to how we help people experiencing mental health issues.

So very sad. Debian is what got me started with Linux. I remember dd'ing base images to floppy disks since the BIOS on the PC I was experimenting on didn't support bootable CDs. From then doing a net install seemed so futuristic at the time.

The Debian manifesto, written by Ian can be found here.


Not only is the manifesto a vision for a better way of doing a Linux distribution, Ian was able to build an organization that was able accomplish the vision.

I don't really want to make a comment about the reasons "why", but I do want to say RIP Ian.

I love Debian and it's derivatives. CrunchBang was the first distro I used for more than two days.

Eh, @dang, can we get a black bar in Ian's honor, please?

I know we're not supposed to leave comments that are essentially +1. But—please, this seems appropriate.

What happened to the Debian post, too?

Merged threads.

I didn't knew Ian, but Debian was the very first Linux Distribution i had come across, at a time, when i didn't even knew what a Linux Distribution was. This experience was the start of "something" that has changed my whole life since then. Literally, not only in terms of my profession.

Debian was the first thing I got to work - I tried to install other distros before that but Debian is the one that worked. Learned about software licenses (early days of trying ot get wifi to work).

I really wish I could do something. I feel acute distress at this news. It is not right.

RIP Ian...Like others I find this very disturbing and troubling. I hope the truth comes out.

I am a little disappointed that there is nothing on the Debian home page.

I only met him once, but I thought Ian was a brilliant and funny man. Debian was the Linux distribution that sang to me, and is where I've spent the better part of the last 20 years. Thanks for all your admirable work, Ian!

This is a great loss - he leaves behind a tremendous legacy.

I hope someone writes it up. It seems very strange, and we need to stop what seems to me a suicide wave in the last few years in the free software community.

This is truly a loss.

Fuck , i began to use debian and everyone using tech now own him something i think.

That's a sad thing to hear. Fuck, people like this don't have to leave to soon.


Sad to hear, my first exposure to Linux was in fact being a student at Purdue and trying one of the early releases of Debian..Ian will be missed


I say maybe not doing that. If someone really, really wants to gawk, let them search for it.

It's not gawking. It's trying to find out what happened.

Given who he is, it's the least any interested person would like to do.

Condolences to his friends and family. Ian and the hundreds of Debian maintainers who followed have left an amazing legacy which I use and appreciate every day.


Very Sad to hear this. My heart goes out to his friends and family. Rest in peace, Ian. You will be remembered forever.

I was the OP who posted the first thread which was linking to his life-threatening tweet minutes after he posted it (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10803924). Unfortunately it got deleted just before reaching to frontpage because "We are not going to have a thread to gawk at a human being saying he might kill himself."

Well, I was thinking exactly the opposite of gawking when I posted it. I wanted the community to pay attention, I wanted thousands of people writing him emails/tweets, supporting his fight against the traumatic experience he encountered with the police. So he could see that ending his life isnt the only way to reach out to people about his cause. I feel like we actually closed our ears to what he was trying to say by deleting that thread. What was so wrong about discussing it here as normal human beings? People in that thread were actually discussing his experience about police brutality. From his Twitter logs, you can see that he was tweeting to some Twitter accounts and was asking for help on his cause :( I just feel like it would be nice for him to see himself on front-page of Hackernews and see that community is also outraged by what happened to him. Instead, he was harassed by several random people on Twitter calling him names and wanting him to broadcast his suicide on twitch :(

I don't mean to hurt/blame anyone or any moderator. Maybe I just feel very emotional since I met with Debian when I was 18 and it completely changed my life. I also met with him at a couple of events and he seemed like a nice guy in person, too. I just feel a little responsible for not being able to do anything after reading his tweets :( I do hope that community doesn't let what happened to him forgotten and fight for his cause.

> Well, I was thinking exactly the opposite of gawking when I posted it.

I suppose it depends on how much faith you have in the community, particularly in its worst elements. If there is not an outpouring of support (> 95% of the responses are positive), then broadcasting his calls for attention probably won't help and it may even further have hurt Ian.

I personally believe that our community would care for this person: an established man of merit in our little community and certainly not a insecure attention-seeker.

I agree your original thread should have not been deleted.

>I wanted the community to pay attention

Now I'll ask myself: are we a community or just a bunch of brains (siamo una comunità o un'ammucchiata di cervelli)?

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