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Online groups help teens commit suicide

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There is an online community that parents of teens have to know about: Web sites describing  themselves as pro-choice toward suicide.

We will not identify the groups, but at least one site has a library of disturbing information including a peaceful pill handbook, a collection of suicide notes, and instructions how to commit suicide by various methods.

In 2003, 19-year old Suzanne Gonzales was attending college thousands of miles from home and became depressed. She got involved in an online discussion group that promotes suicide as a personal choice. Members of the group encouraged her to kill herself and gave step-by-step instructions how to do it. Suzanne scheduled emails to go out to her family, then checked into a hotel and killed herself with cyanide. The web site has been linked to over a dozen deaths.

Prosecutors told her parents, Mike and Mary Gonzales, that there was no law under which the group's members could be charged. Although many states have laws prohibiting assistance to suicide, the individuals responsible for these deaths over the internet could be from any state.

In March of 2007, Congressman Wally Herger (CA) introduced H.R. 940, the Suzanne Gonzales Suicide Prevention Act, which would make it a federal crime to use the internet to help an individual commit suicide.

Posted by LS