November 22, 2008

Family shock at Florida web death

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/45230000/jpg/_45230780_bigg_grab226.jpg

The family of a US teenager who killed himself live online via a webcam have spoken of their regret at how no-one stopped the unfolding suicide.

Abraham Biggs, 19, from Pembroke Pines, near Miami, killed himself hours after announcing his plan on his blog.

His father said it was "unimaginable" that neither the website's operators nor any viewers alerted the police.

Biggs took an overdose of anti-depressive drugs, but remained comatose online for hours before he died.

His father, Abraham Biggs Sr, said he had no idea his son was contemplating suicide.

''We were very good friends,'' Mr Biggs said of his son, adding: "It's wrong that it was allowed to happen.''

Biggs Jr, who was studying to be a paramedic at the college where his father is a maths professor, suffered from mental illness which his mother said had finally claimed his life.

''My son, Abraham Biggs Jr, was well-loved and cared for. However, the mental illness of bipolarity and depression got the better part of him,'' she wrote on MySpace.

'Nothing happened'

The sense of disbelief at the teenager's death was heightened by the realisation that his end was drawn out and, most likely, preventable.

He began the process by posting messages telling people he was going to kill himself, and then started streaming live pictures from his home.

Reports say that some of viewers who logged in to watch began to encourage the teenager to kill himself, while others tried to dissuade him.

After several hours, when he had not moved some viewers finally notified the site's moderator, who then called the police.

The boy's sister, Rosalind Biggs, denounced the website, Justin.tv, which allows people to broadcast themselves online: "They got hits, they got viewers, nothing happened for hours."

It is unclear how many people watched Wednesday's suicide unfold, although reports suggest that some viewers thought it was a hoax.

The last transmission from the webcam was of a police officer bursting into Abraham Biggs's room, where he discovers his body and then places his hand over the camera.

Michael Seifert, chief executive of Justin.tv, said the company and its staff would "take a moment to recognise and reflect upon the tragedy that occurred within our community" and offered condolences to the Biggs family.

The footage has since been taken down and his father is now calling for more regulation of chatrooms.


Source: Bbc.co.uk

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