The question is sometimes raised as to the reason that there are skulls on the index page to this site. There is concern that some people may think that a.s.h is part of the modern Goth subculture, because that subculture also uses skull imagery; or that others may associate the babyGoth subculture idea that skulls are "kewl". Although the a.s.h subculture and the modern Goth subculture may overlap in some ways, they are distinctly different. Symbolism is often shared by different groups for different meanings; for example, a rainbow may signify a deity's promise in the Torah, an American political coalition developed by a Baptist minister, or a civil rights movement by gays and lesbians.
Around 1998, there was a poll taken on alt.suicide.holiday as to the appropriateness of the skulls. The results were largely in favor of retaining the skulls.Aside from that poll , the skulls have been staying around for a few reasons:
but, the most important reason is that they constitute a "mememto mori".
The phrase "memento mori" means "remember, you too shall die". Philippe Aries wrote a book called "The Hour of Our Death" (the phrase taken from a Roman Catholic prayer) exploring the pendulum of societal attitudes towards death in general. There have been times when people were very comfortable with the idea that death is simply a part of life; this is not one of those times. The attitude towards suicide is mixed in with the attitude towards death; the attitude towards death must become more relaxed before the attitude towards suicide is likely to change.
The skulls, constituting a "memento mori", are a subtle way to prick at the underlying uneasiness with death. A teacher of mine once mentioned about a pet peeve of hers being when people say "If I've got to die anyway..." her standard response being, "Oh, sweetie, you're going to die, there's no if about it!"
**most people in modern Western society really try to believe that there is an 'if' about it. anything that denies them that 'if' makes them uneasy at best, actively hostile at worst.**
The skulls are a quiet, relatively inobtrusive way of marking the difference between accepted societal standards and philosophies about death, and a.s.h-accepted standards and philosophies about death. They mark off a subculture of people who are not only unafraid to deal with the notion of death, but also contemplate death as a good thing. They constitute a warning: are you willing to dare looking at things that might change your attitude on death? They support the written warning on the page in a graphic manner.