Florida Teen's Suicide Streamed Live On Internet - InformationWeek

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11/21/2008
03:26 PM
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Florida Teen's Suicide Streamed Live On Internet

Some thought the event was a hoax until Abraham Biggs Jr.'s body was found by police.

A Florida teen who intentionally overdosed streamed his death on the Internet while it occurred Wednesday.

Others watched online as 19-year-old Abraham Biggs Jr. died. The Broward County Medical Examiner's Office told The Miami Herald that he took a deadly mixture of prescription drugs.

Media reports and comments on discussion boards -- including some posts from those who claimed to have witnessed the incident -- vary on whether Biggs actually ingested the drugs on camera. Accounts also vary as to whether people may have encouraged him to kill himself.

While some members of online discussion boards posted chat messages showing that at least one person encouraged Biggs, the timestamp and corresponding video archives seem to indicate that it was after Biggs fell unconscious or died.

Justin.tv, the forum where Biggs streamed the incident, has deleted video and the related string of comments. Other sites still hosted silent video Friday that showed Biggs lying motionless in a fetal position on his bed, with his back facing the camera, as police discovered the body and blocked the camera.

Several discussion board members posted conversations indicating that people on the live forum thought it was a hoax. Then, some members grew concerned that Biggs was really dead. Members of the discussion board tracked Biggs down, attempted to contact him, and then called police, according to discussion strings they posted on other sites.

Online acquaintances posted what they claimed to be a suicide note from Biggs' online account. One report stated that he posted the note on MySpace six days before he died. Others indicated that he cut and pasted the note onto discussion forums after he started a miscellaneous string to state that he had taken lethal amounts of prescription drugs.

Other people have streamed their suicides and plotted suicide with others online. Suicide is illegal in many places and those who attempt it but fail can face prosecution. Posting video of a suicide is not generally a criminal offense, although it violates terms of use on sites like Justin.tv, which ban inappropriate and violent content. However, that site and others like it rely on users to report inappropriate content, making it impossible in some cases to prevent live footage. In New York state, anyone who advises someone to commit suicide can be charged with manslaughter.

The Broward County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed in statements to The Miami Herald that Biggs blogged around 3 a.m. and at some point stated that he had taken lethal doses of prescription drugs and posted a link to his Webcam and told people they could watch live footage of his death. Pembroke Pines Police arrived around 3:30 p.m. They are continuing to investigate the incident.

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