November 9, 2022

New Bipartisan Bill Would Ban Online Sale of "Suicide Kits"

A new bipartisan bill would save lives by making it a felony to use mail or the internet to assist another person's attempt to die by suicide.

This issue gained traction after two families filed a lawsuit against Amazon for selling a suicide advocate's book alongside a poisonous chemical often intended to cause death. Both families allege that Amazon and Loudwolf (an Amazon seller) assisted in the suicides of the families' teenage children by selling the children these products.

Representatives Lori Trahan (D-MA), Mike Carey (R-OH), Katie Porter (D-CA), and Chris Stewart (R-UT) introduced the Stop Online Suicide Assistance Forums Act on Monday, November 7. The bill would make it a felony offense to use mail or the internet to assist another person's attempt to die by suicide. According to a press release from Trahan, the bill would also give the US Department of Justice additional authority to pursue cases against "suicide assistance forums."

“Suicidal ideation must be met with mental health care and therapies focused on prevention – not real-time instructions and encouragement to die by suicide,” Trahan said in the press release. “This bipartisan legislation will finally ensure the Department of Justice has the authority necessary to target websites and users that push those in need of help toward self-harm instead.”

“This legislation has broad, bipartisan support for one simple reason: it’s necessary,” said Congressman Stewart. “Suicide is an issue that hits home for everyone – it’s a top ten cause of death nationwide, as well as in my home state. If we want to reverse this tragic trend, that means eliminating environments that work to keep us on the same path. Simply put, online suicide assistance forums have no place in our communities. It’s time there be consequences for assisting another individual’s suicide attempt. I’m proud to introduce this legislation alongside my Democrat colleagues, and I’m eager to continue our work toward a healthier nation.”

According to the press release, this legislation "does not impact state sanctioned physician-assisted end of life care." One would assume this means doctors can still offer assisted suicide to suffering patients as long as the act conforms with state laws.