A few thoughts on the Teen who broadcast his suicide via webcam

The suicide of 19-year old Abraham Biggs which he broadcast via webcam last November 19 on Justin.tv is now making the headlines and posts of the blog-o-sphere.

Sad and tragic really. Background details could be read here, his family particularly Biggs’ father has already spoken about it and is angry to those who watched his son end his life via the web but did nothing to stop him from doing so.

I’m not really going to discuss the issues this tragedy has raised, but ask questions instead.

Are any of the audience liable, in any way, for watching the suicide?

According to ITProPortal.com, the suicide was apparently watched by some 1500 viewers. Some of them even egged Biggs on to take those pills which took his life. Others, did nothing but watched to see if it was the real thing, lastly there were some who notified Justin.tv who then called the police to look into the matter.

Legal experts can answer this, but could those who urged Biggs to take those pills be held legally or criminally liable?

Is Justin.tv liable for hosting such a webcast? Or something in their Terms of Use agreement could save them from being held liable?

Would this incident justify the call for tougher regulation of internet sites?

There are many more questions but these are just some that are really nagging my mind. Teen suicide is not something unheard of in American society but what if it happened here in the Philippines?

I suppose it will be another reason the Catholic Church would rile against the Internet and other modern communication technologies.

3 Replies to “A few thoughts on the Teen who broadcast his suicide via webcam”

  1. I have little sympathy for people who end their lives that way, honestly speaking.

    And I want to look for the 1500 who egged him on so I can plant a strong, solid kick to that sensitive area between their thighs.

  2. I'd say there's nobody to blame but the guy who committed suicide. The spectators who chose to watch and to even encourage the guy to take the pills are plain stupid, but, in my opinion, should not be held liable for the death. I don't think Justin.tv should be held liable too, as they do not have control over these events. Even if somehow they know someone's broadcasting something like that, what could they do? Shut down the broadcast? And then what? What they could do, at most, would have been to notify police to look into the matter, which I think they did. The broadcast may have been a plea for help and there were people who had taken certain steps to notify proper authorities. But it happened. And it was HIS choice.

    I've read in the news that the guy's father is looking into placing charges against Justin.tv and those who have viewed the broadcast. Honestly, I think he's just looking for somebody to blame. It'll take a while before he realize that really, there's no one to blame but the guy who took his life, who unfortunately is his son. He just had to learn to accept that.

  3. @Prudence – True, but according to a law professor I talked to, under Philippine laws, if ever it happened here, those who encouraged the boy to commit suicide are liable for some form of assisting in the suicide.

    The problem is, how could they be traced? The internet sure does make simple things a bit more complicated.

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