A 19-year-old man in Florida committed suicide live on the internet as hundreds of web surfers watched - taunting him and offering encouragement.
Abraham K. Biggs, from Broward County, Florida, announced his intention on an online forum, posted a suicide note on another and then took an overdose of pills in front of his webcam, broadcasting his final moments on Justin.tv.
Mr Biggs lay on his bed motionless for several hours before members of the website became alarmed. With the video still streaming, viewers eventually called the local police, who broke down the door, found the body and switched off the camera. Up to 1,500 people were viewing, according to one report.
A video clip posted on the net shows a police officer entering the room, his handgun drawn, as he checks for any sign of life. Mr Biggs was a member of bodybuilding.com under the name CandyJunkie and was also known under the alias of Feels Like Ecstasy on Justin. tv. He had apparently threatened to commit suicide before.
On Wednesday he went on the bodybuilding.com forum and detailed the amount of drugs he was going to take. The moderators of the forum reportedly did not take him seriously because of his past threats and other forum members egged him on. “You want to kill yourself?” one said. “Do it, do the world a favour and stop wasting our time with your mindless self-pity.”
In his suicide note Mr Biggs said that he had hurt other people and hated himself for being a failure. “I am an a@#hole. I have let everyone down and I feel as though I will never change or never improve. I am in love with a girl and I know that I am not good enough for her,” he wrote.
As he lay on the bed after taking the pills, many forum members continued to insult him, believing that it was a hoax.
Wendy Crane, an investigator with the Broward County medical examiner's office, said Mr Biggs died from a toxic combination of opiates and benzodiazepine, a drug used to treat insomnia and depression.
At least one of the drugs was prescribed to him and it's unclear how he got the others, she said. He started blogging at 3am on Wednesday and his body was found by police 12 hours later.
Mr Biggs' father, Abraham Biggs Sr., told ABCNews.com that he was not home when his son died. He said his son struggled with depression and had been prescribed benzodiazepine to treat bipolar disorder. The 19-year-old had been "doing better," his father said, "He was a good kid."
Mr Biggs senior said he was upset that Justin.tv streamed his son's suicide live. "There seems to be a lack of control as to what people put out on the Internet," he said. "There's a lot of garbage out there that should not be, and unfortunately this was allowed to happen."
Justin.tv, named after Justin Kan, its first star, is an open network of thousands of live channels based in San Francisco.
“We regret that this has occurred and respect the privacy of the broadcaster and his family during this time,” Michael Seibel, CEO of Justin.tv, said.
“We have policies in place to discourage the distribution of distressing content and our community monitors the site accordingly. This content was flagged by our community, reviewed and removed according to our terms of service.”
The video feed has been taken down, but clips have been posted elsewhere on the net and copies of the suicide note can also be found, though many of the forum posts have been deleted by their authors.
Mr Biggs’s friends have posted RIP messages on his MySpace page, with some still asking him to pick up his phone.
Last year a British man hanged himself live on webcam. His suicide was witnessed by about 100 chatroom users. Kevin Whitrick, 42, from Telford, Shropshire, killed himself after being goaded in an “insult” chatroom at the Paltalk website. One of the users is claimed to have told him: “F***ing do it. Get on with it.”
According to one charity that works to prevent suicide, there have been at least 17 deaths in Britain since 2001 involving chatrooms or sites that give advice on suicide methods.