Things not to do.
A 21-year-old American online gaming fan broadcast his suicide on a Bulgarian Internet forum.... switched on his web cam and swallowed a large amount of motor antifreeze and pills after complaining about family problems and a lack of money...
Just know the truth: That your "buddies" online will be shocked and perhaps feel even a little bit of guilt but are sure to move on to new topics in a short matter of time and forget that you've ever even been online. It's not worth wasting your life over that.
January 19: The above story was apparently completely fabricated, according to his roommate and several other friends from the forum (see the comments and this article or this one). So my apologies for posting this false story. On the other hand, I thought about the request to remove this post and I personally would prefer leaving this up, showing how easy it is to read news stories online and assume it's true, and at the same time keep the discussion open about this kind of topic. Because - in all honesty - it didn't surprise me when I read it. Would it surprise you?
I had an online friend from Everquest a few years back, someone I would exchange messages with (via game board) on an daily / weekly basis. He was only in his early 20s and living his life with reckless abandon... including drugs, booze, gaming, just everything. He felt at odds with his environment, his family, life in general. One day he told me that he might die from ODing himself - he sounded as if he had given up on life. Well, I never heard from him again. I don't know what happened to him. All I have is his first name, a link to a few pictures that he sent and his email. I've tried to track him down, searching with the few information bits I had, emailing him, checking if he had been online at the board, with no luck. To this day I wonder what happened to him.
The tricky thing about online friendships is that you can never be exactly sure what is going on unless you go beyond the online identity. In the above case, there were people who knew him in real life, people who knew enough about his identity in real life to follow up and demonstrate their friendship beyond the Internet. I am not sure how often that is the case.