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."
I agree with the father that someone should have done something to prevent this tragedy. The article goes on to explain that Abraham Biggs Jr. suffered from bi-polar disease and actually used his medication to kill himself, I suppose in one huge dose.
What I noticed with interest is Biggs Sr.'s suggestion that the viewers and the internet provider share in the responsibility. It sounds a lot like my suggestion that legal gun owners share in the responsibility of tragic gun events. About the guns, I'm still working on that connection; perhaps this story will help me sort it out.
The major question remains: how much autonomy should be give individuals who wish to commit suicide? Previously I argued that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem and as such should be discouraged emphatically or even physically prevented. But I admit it is complicated.
Does the very fact that one wants to commit suicide imply mental illness? Is there any validity to Mr. Biggs' claim that the viewers share in the responsibility? Is inaction on their part culpable?
What about those "tougher regulations for internet sites?" What might they be and would they be appropriate?
What's your opinion?