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Florida teen commits suicide by drug overdose in front of live webcam

By Rasha Madkour
Associated Press / November 22, 2008
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MIAMI - A college student committed suicide by taking a drug overdose in front of a live webcam as some computer users egged him on, others tried to talk him out of it, and another messaged OMG in horror when it became clear it was no joke.

Some watchers contacted the website to notify police, but by the time officers entered Abraham Biggs's home - a scene also captured on the Internet - it was too late.

Biggs, a 19-year-old Broward College student who suffered from what his family said was bipolar disorder, or manic depression, lay dead on his bed in his father's Pembroke Pines house Wednesday afternoon, the camera still running 12 hours after Biggs announced his intentions online around 3 a.m.

It was unclear how many people watched it unfold.

Biggs was not the first person to commit suicide with a webcam rolling.

But the drawn-out drama - and the reaction of those watching - was seen as an extreme example of young people's penchant for sharing intimate details about themselves over the Internet.

Biggs's family was infuriated that no one acted sooner to save him, neither the viewers nor the website that hosted the live video, Justin.tv.

The website shows a video image, with a space alongside where computer users can instantly post comments.

Only when police arrived did the Web feed stop, "so that's 12 hours of watching," said the victim's sister, Rosalind Bigg. "They got hits, they got viewers, nothing happened for hours."

She added: "It didn't have to be."

An autopsy concluded Biggs died from a combination of opiates and benzodiazepine, which his family said was prescribed for his bipolar disorder.

Biggs announced his plans to kill himself over a website for bodybuilders, authorities said. But some users told investigators they did not take him seriously because he had threatened suicide on the site before.

Some members of his virtual audience encouraged him to do it, others tried to talk him out of it, and some discussed whether he was taking a dose big enough to kill himself, said Wendy Crane, an investigator with the Broward County medical examiner's office.

A computer user who claimed to have watched said that after swallowing some pills, Biggs went to sleep and appeared to be breathing for a few hours while others cracked jokes.

Someone notified the moderator of the bodybuilding site, who traced Biggs's location and called police, Crane said.

As police entered the room, the audience's reaction was filled with Internet shorthand: "OMFG," one wrote, meaning "Oh, my [expletive] God."

Others, either not knowing what they were seeing, or not caring, wrote "lol," which means "laughing out loud," and "hahaha."

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