A lawsuit against Amazon claims that the firm sold purported suicide kits that contained a lethal poison that minors used to commit suicide.
According to NPR, the parents of two teenagers, Kristine Jonsson, 16, of Ohio and Ethan McCarthy, 17, of West Virginia, claim that the retail corporation contributed to their children’s deaths by selling them sodium nitrite. (Sodium nitrate, a food preservative, is lethal when it reaches high purity levels.)
The case, which was submitted in September to a state court in California, claims that Amazon suggested to consumers who bought sodium nitrate to also purchase a scale to measure the proper quantity, an anti-vomiting medication, and Amazon’s version of a suicide manual.
Two attorneys for the families from the company C.A. Goldberg, PLLC, Carrie Goldberg and Naomi Leeds, claimed in a statement that “Amazon is selling a substance that is as dangerous as cyanide.”
They claimed that “there is no home application for [sodium nitrite] at the degree of purity (98-99%) it offers,” which makes the situation “different from their selling rope, knives, or other equipment that can be used for death.”
According to NPR, sodium nitrite is used in small amounts to cure foods like ham, bacon, and hot dogs. People that consume large amounts of the substance experience respiratory problems and abdominal pain. It may even result in death.
According to Goldberg, some of the sodium nitrite items available on Amazon are so pure that taking a teaspoon of them might be lethal. According to the plaintiffs, sodium nitrite is discussed in discussions on online suicide forums, and Amazon has received unfavourable reviews and complaints from people who believe that their customers are taking the medication to commit suicide.
The manufacturer of the sodium nitrite that was supplied to the two teenagers on Amazon, Loudwolf, is also the object of the lawsuit. According to Goldberg and Leeds, Amazon no longer carries the company’s goods.
The lawyers also mentioned an injection of methylene blue as a remedy for sodium nitrite. The complaint claims that despite the antidote not being mentioned in the product listing for Loudwolf’s product, Amazon sold a brand of methylene blue advertising space on various sodium nitrite product pages.
The same law firm claims in a different complaint made in Washington earlier this year that Amazon supplied the poison to two additional people, Mikael Scott, 27, and Tyler Muhleman, 17, who both used it to commit suicide.
According to The New York Times, a bipartisan group of U.S. House legislators wrote to Amazon in February to inquire about the company’s sales of sodium nitrite and associated suicides. At the time, the publication had tracked down 10 individuals who had used the poison obtained from Amazon in the previous two years to commit suicide.
Amazon offered its “deepest condolences” to the families and loved ones of individuals who had been affected by suicide in a message to NPR. The business claimed that it places a high focus on consumer safety and requires vendors to abide by all relevant rules and laws pertaining to products.
The company stated in the statement that sodium nitrite is a common and legal commodity used by merchants to preserve commodities like meats and fish as well as for use as a reagent in laboratories. Although sodium nitrite is not meant to be consumed, it can unfortunately be used improperly, like many other items.
Contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by calling 9-8-8 or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, if you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide.