MIAMI – The father of a college student whose suicide was broadcast live over a webcam said Saturday he was appalled by the virtual audience that egged on his son and called for tougher regulation of Internet sites.
Abraham Biggs Sr. said those who watched and the Web site operators share some blame in his 19-year-old son’s death.
“I think they are all equally wrong,” he said. “It’s a person’s life that we’re talking about. And as a human being, you don’t watch someone in trouble and sit back and just watch.”
Police found Abraham Biggs Jr. dead in his father’s bed Wednesday, 12 hours after he first declared on the Web site for bodybuilders that he planned to take his own life. He took a fatal drug overdose in front of an Internet audience. Although some viewers contacted the Web site to notify police, authorities did not reach his house in time.
Biggs, who has said he was at work during the episode, said he had not known about his son’s online presence.
“I think after this incident and probably other incidents that have occurred in the past, they all point to some kind of regulation is necessary,” Biggs said. “I think it is wrong to have this happen for hours without any action being taken from the people in charge. Where were they all the time?”
The younger Biggs posted a link from the Web site to Justin.tv, which allows users to broadcast live with their webcams.
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. Some users told investigators they did not take him seriously because he had threatened suicide on the site before.
Biggs Sr. said he believes the webcast was a cry for help.
“But rather than get help, he was ignored,” Biggs said. “I would not want to see anything like that on the Internet and not try and get help for that young man. I think that’s what the average person would do. Any normal person would do. I’m really appalled.”
Pembroke Pines Police Department Sgt. Bryan Davis said no new information on the case was available Saturday.
Biggs Sr. said funeral arrangements have not yet been set for his son, who he said loved helping others.
“He was a good kid. Good kid,” Biggs Sr. said. “It’s a shame I wasn’t there to help him. It’s a big loss to me. I wish I was there to help him — since nobody else would.”
Miami lawyer William Hill said there is probably nothing that could be done legally to those who watched and did not act. As for whether the Web site could be held liable, Hill said there doesn’t seem to be much of a case for negligence.
“There could conceivably be some liability if they knew this was happening and they had some ability to intervene and didn’t take action,” said Hill, who does business litigation and has represented a number of Internet-based clients. But “I think it would be a stretch.”
An autopsy concluded Biggs died from a combination of opiates and benzodiazepine, which his family said was prescribed for his bipolar disorder.
“Abe, i still wish this was all a joke,” a friend wrote on the teenager’s MySpace page.
In a statement, Justin.tv CEO Michael Seibel said: “We regret that this has occurred and want to respect the privacy of the broadcaster and his family during this time.”
It is unclear how many people watched it happen. The Web site would not say how many people were watching the broadcast. The site as a whole had 672,000 unique visitors in October, according to Nielsen.
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.
R.I.P. The following is the suicide post of Abraham Biggs, Jr:
Ask a guy who is gonna OD (again) tonight anything
To Whom It May Concern,
I am going to leave this for whoever stumbles across my bookmarks later on.
I hate myself and I hate living. I think that if someone who knows me
reads this they will know who I am. So I will leave this unsigned. 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. I have come
to believe that my life has all been meaningless. I keep trying and I
keep failing. I have thought about and attempted suicide many times in
the past. I used to think of my failure as some mystical way of telling
me that I was really meant for something meaningful. The only thing I
dread, besides the pain, is the way my family will suffer. I do not want
my mother or father to think that it was anything they did that lead me
to kill myself. I never really had any plans of leaving a note. I
thought that I would not be able to describe why I want to do this and I
am right. There is no way to tell you or anyone else why I dread every
new day. My father had such high expectations for me and tried to give
me every opportunity to improve upon myself. I let him down. I think
that I am a major disappointment to him. I have a job but I?m always broke
and I am in college but barely, I show up to class but that?s about it.
I want my life to end. I am tired of f@#$ing up everything. I
am tired of people always telling me that they do not like me. I am
tired of trying to be decent. I hope that someone finds this post and I
hope that my parents know that I f@#$ed up not them. It is my fault I
screwed up my own life.
The hate that rages within me, rages not for those I love so dearly or
those who have crossed my path.
This hate rages full force towards me and only me.
I have long forgiven those who’ve hurt me, but I have not and cannot
come to terms to forgive myself for the things I have done to myself, and
the things I’ve done to hurt those in my life.
You have all touched my life in one way or another,
especially those whom I call family.
I cannot tell you how sorry I am for ending my life the way I did. I
hope that you can all find it in your heart to see it as way for me not
suffering anymore and that I am finally at rest with myself, for being at
rest with the guilt that constantly ate at me for so long.
Please forgive me all for taking my own life so early. I tried so hard
to fight against this strong battle. I have reached out for help so many
times, and yet I believe, I was turned away because of the things I did,
that it is a punishment I am willing to take, for I know that being who I am
has only brought myself and others pain.
I love you all and will forever live within the memories we created.
Love always and forever,
As for my signature I will leave you with a quote so that if anyone
reads this they will know it’s me, “Can?t feel pain if your dead? Just Saying”
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