Friday, November 21, 2008

Suicide: The New Reality TV

Florida Teen Commits Suicide Live on Web Cam

This was the headline on Fox News this morning that caught my eye and as I read it, several things went through my mind, but the one thing that was foremost in my mind was simply "Why?". Why did this young man, 19 years old, with his life ahead of him, do this, and also, why did NO ONE try and talk him out of this?

His name was Abraham K Biggs and he informed the members on a bodybuilding forum that morning that he was going to commit suicide that evening. He invited everyone to watch as he streamed it live via webcam on

From the news report:
The forum moderators allegedly ignored the post – assuming it was a prank – while other users posted insults and even egged him on.
The teen used the "lifecasting" website – designed to let users share the minutiae of their everyday lives – to stream footage from his bedroom.
Biggs was seen taking several pills before lying on the bed with his back to the camera.
He didn't move, and users claim they realised it was serious a few hours later when they saw he wasn't breathing. Moderators then traced Biggs's location and informed authorities.
The webcam was still streaming live footage of the teen's body as police entered the room. A laser-guided weapon was pointed at the body and an object was thrown at the bed.
Authorities then appeared on the video as they approached the teen's body, checked for a pulse, and covered up the webcam.

As to the persons who egged him on, well, they showed their true cowardice afterwords.
Some forum users allegedly began deleting their posts after the incident and an official thread – including Biggs' full name – was posted by moderators.

I suppose they don't wish to be indicted by a grand jury for contributing to this. It must be a very sad thing indeed when all you do is help someone kill them self and then slink away back into the darkness.

As for the website itself, this was the reaction: chief executive officer Michael Seibel told online video news website the service relied on users to report inappropriate content.
"As for the broadcaster incident last night, we don’t comment on individual videos, however, our policy prohibits inappropriate content on," he said.
"We rely on the community to flag videos that they feel are objectionable. Once a video is flagged, it is reviewed and quickly removed from the system if it violates our Terms of Use."

Their policy prohibits "inappropriate" content. They rely on the users to report the content that is inappropriate.

Their policy, moderators and users failed this young man. Perhaps we all did.

Suicide help and advice is available from


Ontario Emperor said...

There's a difference between liability and responsibility (I discussed it here), but you are right in noting that we are all responsible for this. Christians must ask themselves the question, "Who is my neighbor?" but even secularists realize that members of a society need to look out for others within the society who are in trouble.

strictlyanything said...

Here are my thoughts after a challenging discussion at friendfeed