According to his sister, 19-year-old Abraham Biggs, despite his bipolar disorder, liked striking up friendly conversations with service people and always looked forward to taking his nieces to Chuck E. Cheese.
Abraham took time off from being a Broward College student last Wednesday.
To kill himself.
Live on the web - death via webcam.
Log on. Adjust the camera. Swallow pills. Lie down.
Abraham executed himself in front of an audience of thousands, who commented, chat-room style, while it was happening.
Some viewers were skeptical. Others joined in merrily in what they thought was a prank.
A few were perceptive enough to get it, and chimed in, trying to dissuade Abraham from what he was doing. A couple of these viewers finally contacted the site moderator.
The cold eye of the webcam ran live for 12 hours, showing, at the end, police entering the room and finally switching the camera off.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time that suicide via webcam as happened. Some would argue that it’s simply a digital age way of committing suicide in public, just like jumping off a bridge or building.
Hardly the point, is it?
Bipolar disorder is a significant psychological disability. There’s little doubt that it had an impact in Abraham’s suicide. Published excerpts from his suicide note show that he was clearly depressed, feeling helpless, and bereft of personal worth.
Here’s the caution I’d offer based on Abraham’s suicide:
In the Netherlands, people like Abraham don’t need to die alone on webcam. They can go to their doctor and report that their psychological disability means that they have no hope of any kind of future quality of life.
Under Dutch law, they can request assisted suicide or euthanasia. There are few constraints on Dutch physicians if they agree with the patient’s perceptions.
Ask, and you shall receive.
In the Netherlands, I have no doubt that physicians would have judged Abraham a perfect candidate for assisted suicide or euthanasia.
Here’s a prediction: The pro-death lobby will use Abraham’s suicide to show why we need legal assisted suicide and euthanasia in the US. That way, people like Abraham won’t have to die alone, watched by strangers.
If assisted suicide and euthanasia were legal (so they’ll say), Abraham could have committed suicide surrounded by his loved ones, in comfort, and with happy memories as he fades from this earth.
Death with dignity, you see.