A new bill from a bipartisan group of lawmakers would prevent online outlets like Amazon from selling so-called “suicide kits.” The issue came to the forefront after two families alleged that their teenagers were able to purchase a book telling them how to commit suicide, as well as the chemical needed to carry it out.
On Amazon, one seller (which Live Action News will not list here) has a copy of Philip Nitschke’s “Peaceful Pill Book.” Recommended with it is a pure form of sodium nitrate, which a lawsuit claims has no household purpose. The only reason for buying it would be to commit suicide, and along with Nitschke’s book, Amazon recommended “a small scale to measure the right dose” and “Tagamet to prevent vomiting up the liquid.”
Now, politicians are taking action. Democrats Lori Trahan and Katie Porter have teamed up with Republicans Mike Carey and Chris Stewart to put an end to these suicide kits. The New York Times reported that there have been dozens of deaths linked to them, including those of young teenagers.
Sharon Luft, whose 17-year-old son Matthew committed suicide, applauded the legislation. “It’s at least one important step,” she said. “We need to get this online help taken down.” Robert Gebbia, the chief executive of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, also agreed that this must be stopped. “Websites that encourage suicide and offer instructions are harmful, particularly to youth and young adults,” he said.
If the bill passes, it will be a felony for anyone to use online forums to assist in someone’s suicide attempt.
“We’re facing a mental health crisis in our nation, and suicide – particularly among young people – is dangerously on the rise. The last thing we need right now is an online forum operating in the shadows of the internet that actively encourages and even assists people to die by suicide,” Trahan said in a press release. “Suicidal ideation must be met with mental health care and therapies focused on prevention – not real-time instructions and encouragement to die by suicide. This bipartisan legislation will finally ensure the Department of Justice has the authority necessary to target websites and users that push those in need of help toward self-harm instead.”
“This legislation has broad, bipartisan support for one simple reason: it’s necessary,” Steward added. “Suicide is an issue that hits home for everyone – it’s a top ten cause of death nationwide, as well as in my home state. If we want to reverse this tragic trend, that means eliminating environments that work to keep us on the same path. Simply put, online suicide assistance forums have no place in our communities. It’s time there be consequences for assisting another individual’s suicide attempt. I’m proud to introduce this legislation alongside my Democrat colleagues, and I’m eager to continue our work toward a healthier nation.”