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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 February, 2003, 08:19 GMT
Online 'suicide' brother's pain
Brandon Vedas
Vedas did not intend to kill himself
The brother of 21-year-old Brandon Vedas, who killed himself in front of a webcam after being urged to take drugs in a internet chat room, has told the BBC of his campaign to make chatrooms safer.

Vedas, known online as "Ripper," took a large quantity of prescription drugs while at his computer in Southern California.

His last message to other chatters was: "I told u I was hardcore."

You look at the actions of people and there is such a disconnect from what was really happening
Rich Vedas
His older brother Rich has spoken of his anger that no one tried to stop Vedas from taking the drugs.

"You see people laughing about it and encouraging him to take more," Rich told the BBC World Service's Outlook programme.

"As time progressed and they could see and talk and see that the drugs were taking an effect and that he'd taken large quantities, you see them beginning to question whether or not they should contact the authorities, what they should do.

"Ultimately you see everyone stepping back and doing nothing."

Tragedy

Rich criticised the fact that no one called the authorities, even when they were concerned that something was wrong.

People who are trying to communicate in these chat rooms are very vulnerable generally, whatever age they may be or whatever gender they may be
Professor Boam, former director, Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention
"You look at the actions of people and there is such a disconnect from what was really happening. It's really sad," he said.

"It's such a tragedy, and it becomes more so the more you look at the actions of some of the people who were involved.

"I've spoken through e-mail to four or five of those involved.

"While some have expressed remorse, many of them, still being teenagers, still do not grasp hold of the reality of the situation - that my brother has died as a result of what happened that night."

Danger

Professor Boam, former director of the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, told Outlook that the phenomenon of chat room suicides was dangerous - and growing.

"At any one time, there could be several hundred people across the world who will be dying whilst participating in these chat rooms," Prof Boam warned.

"People who are trying to communicate in these chat rooms are very vulnerable generally, whatever age they may be or whatever gender they may be."




SEE ALSO:
Net grief for online 'suicide'
04 Feb 03  |  Technology
Chatroom provider fails safety test
04 Feb 03  |  Technology
Net industry must fight paedophiles
06 Jan 03  |  Technology


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