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PARENTAL WARNING: Lawsuit Accuses Amazon of Selling 'Suicide Kits' to Teens


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Two families who lost their teenagers to suicide have filed a lawsuit against e-commerce giant Amazon, accusing the company of selling so-called "suicide kits" containing a food preservative that is fatal at high levels of purity.

The parents of 16-year-old Kristine Jónsson of Ohio and the parents of 17-year-old Ethan McCarthy of West Virginia said the company assisted in the teens' deaths by selling them sodium nitrite, NPR reported. 

If a person ingests enough of this substance, it can interfere with the body's red blood cells' ability to transport oxygen. This dangerous and potentially fatal condition is called methemoglobinemia, according to the Missouri Poison Center's website.

The families filed a complaint in a California state court last month arguing, "Along with Sodium Nitrite, Amazon recommends that customers also purchase a small scale to measure the right dose, Tagamet to prevent vomiting up the liquid, and the 'Amazon edition' of the Peaceful Pill Handbook which contains a chapter with instructions on how to administer these ingredients together to die."

Court documents reveal online websites and suicide forums frequently discuss the use of the chemical.  

Jónsson took her life in September 2020. And McCarthy took his own life in January 2020.  

"Amazon is selling a product that is as deadly as cyanide," Carrie Goldberg and Naomi Leeds, two attorneys for the families from the firm C.A. Goldberg, PLLC, said in a statement, according to the outlet.

"This is different from them selling rope, knives, or other implements that can be used for death because there is no household use for {sodium nitrate} at the level of purity (98-99%) it sells it," the attorneys said.

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An Amazon seller, Loudwolf, is also named in the lawsuit. The two teens allegedly bought its brand of sodium nitrite, according to NPR

The outlet states the same law firm also filed another complaint earlier this year in Washington state alleging that Amazon sold the chemical to two other people — 27-year-old Mikael Scott and 17-year-old Tyler Muhleman — who also used it to kill themselves.

Last February, The New York Times reported it had identified 10 people who had killed themselves using the chemical compound after buying it through the site in the past two years. 

CBN News has contacted Amazon for comment. We'll post it here when we hear back. 

According to America's Poison Centers website, poison control centers across the U.S. reported a 253 percent increase in self-poisoning with nitrites and a 166 percent increase in fatalities in 2021 in comparison to 2018. This is at the same time there is increased accessibility of sodium nitrite through online vendors and recommendations frequently shared in online communities.

If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal or in distress, please call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988. 988 has been designated as the new three-digit dialing code that is now active across the United States. When people call, text, or chat 988, they will be connected to trained counselors that are part of the existing Lifeline network. These trained counselors will listen, understand how their problems are affecting them, provide support, and connect them to resources if necessary

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of