A South Florida kid committed suicide live on webcam.
College student Abraham Biggs, 19, killed himself by overdosing on drugs in front of a live online audience as some computer users egged him on, some debated his method, and others tried to talk him out of it. Biggs, of Pembroke Pines, died Wednesday at his home from a toxic combination of opiates and benzodiazepine, a drug used to treat insomnia and depression.
Biggs, who used the screen name “CandyJunkie” on the site bodybuilding.com, started blogging about plans to kill himself 12 hours before he was found lying dead on his bed. He posted a link from bodybuilding.com to Justin.tv, a site that allows users to broadcast live videos from their webcams. Some users who read the blog told investigators they did not take him seriously because he had threatened suicide on the site before.
|Condolences poured in to Biggs’ MySpace page, where the mostly unsmiling teen is seen posing in a series of pictures with various young women. On justin.tv, his alias was “feels_like_ecstacy.”|
“People were egging him on and saying things like ‘go ahead and do it, faggot,’ said Wendy Crane, an investigator at the Broward County Medical Examiner’s office.
Biggs, who had reportedly been discussing his suicide on the forums, also posted a suicide note on a body-building forum, which has since been taken down, in which he wrote, “I hate myself and I hate living.”
“I have let everyone down and I feel as though I will never change or never improve,” Biggs wrote in the posting. “I am in love with a girl and I know that I am not good enough for her. I have come to believe that my life has all been meaningless. I keep trying and I keep failing. I have thought about and attempted suicide many times in the past.”
The video and blog postings have since been removed from the sites, but Crane, who has seen both, said that at first viewers thought the suicide was a hoax.
“The bloggers said that Biggs had threatened to kill himself before and had faked it, so at first they didn’t believe him,” said Crane. “Gradually, as you read the blog further into the day the bloggers start commenting on how Biggs isn’t moving.”
Biggs had struggled with depression, according to his father, and had been prescribed medication for bipolar disorder. Benzodiazepine is commonly prescribed as a sleep aid or an anti-anxiety medication.
|David Griner, a social media strategist for Luckie & Company, said that while public deaths are not new, online chatrooms provide an especially accessible forum for those debating suicide.|
“The social Web tends to create a sideshow atmosphere, like public executions in the 1700s,” said Griner. “The anonymity and lack of personal connection bring out the worst in people.”
Griner points out that there have been several other online suicides, and some have been faked as well.
In February 2008 a girl who identified herself only as “90 Day Jane” wrote an anonymous blog chronicling the days leading up to her death. The blog turned out to be a hoax, and “Jane” later described it as an “art project.”
The United Kingdom had an online suicide in March 2007, when 42-year-old Kevin Whitrick hanged himself while others watched. According to the BBC, some onlookers tried to stop him while others urged him on.
|The footage has since been taken down and his father is now calling for more regulation of chatrooms.|