Online retail giant Amazon is being accused of selling “suicide kits” to teenagers in a new lawsuit. The lawsuit was brought on by the families of two teenagers, 16-year-old Kristine Jónsson of Ohio and 17-year-old Ethan McCarthy of West Virginia, who used the items to take their own lives.
According to the lawsuit, when users went to purchase sodium nitrite, a food preservative that in high doses can end someone’s life, Amazon would recommend they buy a scale to measure the dose, an anti-vomiting drug, and Amazon’s edition of a handbook on assisted suicide.
“The rare exception exists in eleven states where physicians are allowed, under exceedingly narrow, legislated medical circumstances, to carefully facilitate the death of a proven terminally ill patient. Contrary to what Amazon and Loudwolf may think, there is no exception that allows for corporate-assisted suicide,” the lawsuit asserts.
Lawyers representing the families say that this is a “case about the most powerful, wealthy, and trusted corporation in America knowingly assisting in the deaths of healthy children by selling them suicide kits.”
“These kits are comprised of Sodium Nitrite—a soluble solution that when mixed with water and drunk can render a person unconscious within twenty minutes,” the lawsuit states. “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.”
The lawsuit continues, “even after parents and regulators warned Amazon that Sodium Nitrite had no household use, Amazon continued to sell it to households, for under twenty dollars, and with two-day delivery.”
“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 nitrite] at the level of purity (98-99%) it sells it,” Carrie Goldberg and Naomi Leeds, two attorneys for the families from the firm C.A. Goldberg, PLLC, said in a statement, obtained by NPR.
The Sodium-Nitrate being sold by Amazon had such a high purity that the legal team maintains a single teaspoon is enough to be fatal.
Amazon defended the sale, telling NPR that they send their “deepest condolences” to the families, but maintain that they did nothing wrong.
“Sodium nitrite is a legal and widely-available product offered by retailers to preserve foods, such as meats and fish, and for use in laboratories as a reagent. Sodium nitrite is not intended for consumption, and unfortunately, like many products, it can be misused,” the spokesperson said in a statement.