On Reddit I found two messages allegedly left behind by people who committed suicide.

The /r/codes group on Reddit has for years been one of my best sources for interesting cryptograms. During my last visit to this forum, I saw two similar posts published on the same day but by different users.

Both posts are about messages allegedly left behind by persons who committed suicide. I don’t know if these cryptograms are genuine and if there is a relationship between the two. In any case, it is worth taking a look at them.


A Base64 message

The first of the two cryptograms was posted by a Reddit user calling himself Sonic_Keeb. Here’s what he wrote:

A few days ago a close friend of mine committed suicide and when the police found his body he was carrying a note on him and on the side it says Base 64 and that is how I ended up here. Please help me decipher this so me and my other friends can find some closure.

Source: Reddit

Base64 is a well-known coding system used to convert binary data (e.g., an image or program code) to an ASCII string. Base64 is not really an encryption method, beause it doesn’t use a key. The main question now is whether this suicide note is really Base64-encoded or if the author gave a wrong hint to confuse codebreakers. If we are dealing with a Base64 message, we need to ask ourselves whether an additional encryption has been used.

As the readers of the Reddit post soon found out, the simplest solution is the correct one: The text is in fact Base64 encoded without a further encryption having been used. Here’s the plaintext:

hello, there… this was wroten on 04-Aug-2019. how are you doing future self. lmao. how long did it take you to find out how to decode this. hope youre doing great, right now. i am just, kinda meh. haven’t had a girlfriend yet. playing games a lot, and i mean, a fucking lot lmao. you have a job at shinrai janpanese bistro. and you watch animes, but they are like borderline hentai. harem animes. you do trap cosplay, i hope youre still doing most of the stuff. its fucking awesome. how buff r u now? lmao, right now, im 110lbs, and not that buff. yah im just here to check if youre doing okay. keep going man. you still want to go to the Marines? maybe MASOC? you still a virgin i bet lmao. well, thats all, like i said, keep going man. you got this, im doing great rn, hope youre doing pretty good too. OwO

I have never seen a hand-written Base64 text before. Perhaps a reader can tell me why somebody would use such a system for such a purpose.


A substitution cipher message

The second encrypted suicide note was posted by a Reddit user nicknamed Cassi 25 on the same day as the first one. I don’t know if this is a coincidence. Cassi 25 wrote:

Friend committed suicide. This was in his journal full of some dark thoughts. Any clue as to what this might say would be appreciated

Source: Reddit

Apparently, this message is an excerpt from an encrypted notebook. As Reddit users found out, the encryption method used is a substitution cipher (MASC) based on the following substitution table:


Apparently, the author of the message took the word TWENTYFOUR to rearrange the alphabet in the first lineof the table (the second T is omitted, as each letter may only appear once). Here’s the plaintext:


Are these two messages genuine? Or are they fakes created by a Reddit user who wanted to make his cryptograms appear more interesting? I don’t know. Perhaps, a reader can say more about this.

Further reading: Alessio Vinci’s death and the cryptogram he left behind

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Kommentare (2)

  1. #1 ShadowWolf
    Base 64
    8. Februar 2020

    First a bit of history. 64 bit encoding became well known from the MIME standard. Also, it is the same encoding used for PGP/GPG. Before MIME was UUencode, XXencode, AtoB and probably some I never found or don’t remember. The only purpose for all of them is to turn binary into ASCII so that some of the internet servers wouldn’t trash them. This allowed things like mail servers to work where you sent a specially written email to a server and it would respond to various commands. One of them was you could ask for a file and it would return it encoded usually UUencoded but some offered a choice. I don’t even know if any of the mail servers still exist today. Back in the 1990’s I wrote a UUdecode for the Commodore 64 in BASIC so that a less fortunate user could bootstrap into a faster UUdecode and take advantage of the software that was available then. Last I looked, you could still find the program along with a short loader that would “type” the longer basic program in for you.

    As for why someone would use Base 64 as a cipher, that seems to just be a barrier or a threshold of learning. Reading the message, this is someone expecting to be reincarnated. I would maybe guess a teenager or someone else who thinks base 64 is some sort of an achievement. A problem is many of the programs that might translate this would also require a proper header that is missing. This might have been as simple as sending an email to self, forcing MIME encoding by sending the note as an attachment and then looking at the raw email message that is mostly hidden by your browser or email client. Without answers to a lot of questions all anyone can do is make guesses. Writing a special program can be a little annoying as it requires bit shifts and that usually means C/C++ but you can simulate bit shifts with multiplication and division in any programming language. A computer may or may not still hold answers. Doing base 64 by hand is tedious in the extreme. I would need at least a forensic copy of the hard drive. Not that I’m paranoid, but just booting the computer could erase stuff if there are any booby traps and anything else might already be gone.

    Is either of the notes real? That might be hard to verify unless the authorities found them and made notes or copies. The reasoning behind them is kind of obvious. An encrypted note prevents anyone from accidentally reading it and perhaps preventing the suicide. Much like an encrypted diary at least slows down anyone intent on reading it.

  2. #2 schorsch
    12. Februar 2020

    base64 iss a very basic Linuc command, part of coreutils package in Debian. So there is no need to write a ‘special program’ or to consult a mail client for en-/decrypting in base64. And there is no need for a ‘proper header’ as well.

    Just open a command line and type
    Text to encrypt

    and you get the result

    or, decrypting
    base64 -d

    and read the output
    hello, there… this was wroten on 04-Aug-2019. how are y

    It is extremely exhausting to code some text to base64 manually – first you must translate triplets of text to ASCII, find the 8-bit binary equivalent of the decimal (or hex-) ASCII values, concatenate the results, cut the resulting string into four 6-bit snippets and finally translate them to their base64 equivalent.

    So I bet, that the letter wasn’t encoded manually, but with machine help and than written down. A text truly manually (resp. mentally) encrypted to base64 should contain lots of slips.