Suicide and Ashley Madison

BBC News has published a report claiming that two members of the Ashley Madison adultery website have killed themselves, after hackers leaked its database onto the net.

If those reports are true, it’s obviously a horrendous – albeit sadly predictable – turn of events.

Previous article

In my view, a difficult and sensitive situation has been made worse by irresponsible reporting by some in the media, sick publicity-seeking by companies ranging from betting firms to private investigators, and baying crowds on social media believing that anyone who was mentioned in the leaked database deserves everything coming to them…

Sign up to our free newsletter.
Security news, advice, and tips.

Well, they’re wrong.

Nobody deserves to die because of the Ashley Madison leak. And even if your details were found in the database it DOESN’T mean you were ever a member of the site (as it didn’t verify email addresses), and it definitely doesn’t mean you cheated on your partner.

And even if you were on the Ashley Madison website, you might have had a perfectly good reason that no-one would be likely to find questionable.

If you have been affected by the Ashley Madison hack, and feel distressed or vulnerable, please seek help.

USA and Canada
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

United Kingdom
Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Suicide prevention hotlines for other countries are listed here.

Further reading:

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

6 comments on “Suicide and Ashley Madison”

  1. Valerie

    Yes I agree this is so sad and thank you for posting this.

  2. Phelbone Noovely

    It's conceivable that someone could have visited the Ashley Madison site out of simple curiosity, although it's unclear why anyone who didn't want it known would have given the site a legitimate email address.

    Anyhow, this alleged "data base" should have zero credibility. Now that it's "out there", anyone can tamper with it and add any data they want, for any reason. For example, Person A wants to discredit Person B (and not surprisingly, there are some unkind people in the world), so he/she adds Person B's information to an altered copy of the data base.

    And of course, since email addresses were never verified in the first place, even the original data base is worthless as a means of "proving" that someone visited the site.

    In fact, the only thing it proves is that the blackguards who heisted it and distributed it are idiots.

    1. Riddler · in reply to Phelbone Noovely

      The database and other files were signed by the hackers with a pgp key. It is very easy to tell if you are looking at the originals or copies that have been tampered with. Have a look at documentation on PGP signing if you'd like to understand how it works.

  3. George Raymond Kasica


    Thank you for posting this.

    As you say just because names were out there is no sign that the individual actually was on the site. As you've pointed out in the past – sometime(often) many of these sites have ALOT of fake profiles…why not jut harvest a bunch of stuff of the net and dump it in…as you say nothing was verified.

    The fact that two people died as a result of this is just horrible.

    1. Riddler · in reply to George Raymond Kasica

      I'd imagine the 2 people went to the trouble of checking their names were leaked before taking the final step!

  4. Stephen Cobb

    Excellent and timely post Graham. I'm with 100% on this.


What do you think? Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.