Amazon “suicide kits” have led to teen deaths, according to new lawsuit
Lawyers for parents suing Amazon for selling “suicide kits” to teenagers who died say they have reached a “breaking point.”
Amazon lawyers have allegedly told parents that the online retailer had a right to sell these so-called “suicide kits.” The kits are described in the lawsuit as bundled items that Amazon suggests buyers purchase together, including a potentially lethal chemical called sodium nitrite, a scale to measure a lethal dose, a drug to prevent vomiting, and a book with instructions on how to use the chemical to attempt suicide. The online retailer’s lawyers also allegedly said that it would be “unfair and inhumane” to hold Amazon liable for the teens’ deaths.
One of the parents’ lawyers, Carrie Goldberg, took to Twitter yesterday, alleging that Amazon’s corporate ties with news outlets like CBS are effectively working to silence media attention for their lawsuit, while more lives likely remain at risk.
“For months, we avoided press attention to this case,” Goldberg, founder of C.A. Goldberg, PLLC, told Ars in a statement. “But we have reached a breaking point of too many people dying, of medical providers not knowing what is happening or that a treatment protocol exists, and of press spiking stories about it—presumably because of corporate ties to Amazon.”
In her tweet thread, Goldberg claimed that a producer told her that CBS cancelled a pair of 60 Minutes segments on the lawsuit—after CBS requested an exclusive—because “higher-ups at CBS quashed the story.” Allegedly, the producer said these executives “didn’t want to risk anybody dying from suicide on account of their segment.” Ars found that CBS News has previously in 2020 reported on lethal uses of sodium nitrite and last month did a 60 Minutes segment on child suicides.
Parents allegedly told Goldberg that CBS cancelling was understandable because “everyone is afraid of Amazon.” Goldberg tweeted that parents also noted that CBS has a partnership with Amazon Prime.
Goldberg tweeted that the law firm had extensively communicated with CBS ahead of connecting their clients to CBS reporters to ensure that CBS had experience reporting on suicide and knew how to sensitively handle the segments. After receiving assurances from CBS and a commitment that the segment would air, Goldberg set up a Zoom with parents suing. Her concern was that the interviews could retraumatize her clients, and that, to them, it was only worth enduring that emotional duress if by talking to CBS, they could raise awareness for the suffering they’d endured.
“CBS’ failures have been demoralizing and deeply confusing,” Goldberg tweeted. “If it was really about not wanting to report on suicides, why did they assure us so many times they knew how to handle it?”
CBS did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment. An Amazon spokesperson provided a statement to Ars, saying, “We extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones personally affected by suicide. Customer safety is a top priority at Amazon. We are committed to a safe shopping experience and require our selling partners to follow all applicable laws and regulations when listing items in our store.”
According to the complaint, “Amazon defends its right to sell sodium nitrite (and other products known to be used for suicide) because it says some states immunize defendants that cause a personal injury where that injury occurred during an attempted or completed suicide.”
Amazon appears to bundle items into “suicide kits”
In their complaint filed in a California court, parents claimed that—despite it being illegal for anyone, including corporations, to assist or aid in suicide—Amazon is the No. 1 “vendor of sodium nitrite used for suicides” and has been “knowingly assisting in the deaths of healthy children by selling them suicide kits.”
Also named in the lawsuit is an Amazon seller, Loudwolf, which is described as the No. 1 “brand of sodium nitrite sold by Amazon.”
Loudwolf did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment on how much sodium nitrite it sells on Amazon. The lawsuit claims that Amazon has also failed to supply this information. Earlier this year, Amazon failed to meet a deadline set by a Congressional inquiry (following a New York Times investigation into the matter) to confirm “the number of units of sodium nitrite” that Amazon sold. The lawsuit says that Congress expressed concern in a letter to the online retailer that Amazon provides “minors and adults with easy access to sodium nitrite, a deadly chemical.”
Both teen suicide cases described in the lawsuit illustrate how easy it can be for teens to quickly access the chemical on Amazon.
In the first case, a teen named Kristine started experiencing suicidal ideation when the pandemic isolated her from seeing friends in September 2020. Kristine hid her feelings from her family, but registered on an online forum called Sanctioned-Suicide.org, where the lawsuit says users increasingly link to Amazon to encourage others to buy sodium nitrite as a preferred suicidal method.
via Ars Technica – All content https://arstechnica.com
October 7, 2022 at 10:27PM