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Strange record of Florida teen's Web suicide persists online

November 21, 2008 |  2:05 pm
Candyjunkie_2
An image of Biggs' profile photo, and part of a note he wrote on a body building Web forum.

In the unsettling and bizarre case of Abraham Biggs' suicide, streamed live over the Web and witnessed by members of a body building discussion forum, a chilling chronicle of the Florida teenager's drug overdose remains intact online.

Biggs' death was first confirmed by NewTeeVee. Early Wednesday morning, Biggs began a discussion thread called, "Ask a guy who is gonna OD (again) tonight anything," which included nothing but a link to his live video stream on the Justin.tv site.  He used the alias "CandyJunkie."

When a forum user asked why Biggs was doing this, he responded,"I wanna die dur." The last word means "Duh," or "Isn't it obvious?"

The discussion thread, in the 'Misc' section of bodybuilding.com, eventually grew to over 60 pages before it was removed by the site, but a cached version of the thread is still available via Google. Though forum members were not initially sure what to make of Biggs' claim, or of the mostly unmoving image of him splayed on his bed, the level of urgency soon began to rise, with several members posting contact information for local authorities and for Biggs himself. They encouraged other posters to call for help.

The cached discussion thread captures the strange and confused way a crowd can react to such an event, with some contributors riding a fine line between baiting Biggs and simply teasing him for what they viewed as a play for attention.  When one poster contacted a moderator of the site about the situation, she replied by saying, "He's an attention whore, you should see all the posts he starts, then deletes."

Indeed, it does appear that Biggs, who lived in Miami, had a history of ...

... starting threads relating to drug overdosing, including one from earlier this month, which he titled "I'm gonna have 40 2mg bars of Xanax Tonight!" After discussing his plan to take the drugs, he wrote at the time,"I got banned for a month for attempting sucide and my JTV account was deleted :-(."

Some of those participating in the thread from Wednesday night may have been familiar with Biggs' previous claims, perhaps contributing to a general sense of skepticism even as Biggs, visible via his Web camera, lay unmoving.

Contributing to the confusion was the apparent suicide note Biggs posted to the thread. After a short time, another bodybuilder.com poster discovered that the note itself was not wholly original. And he was right: Biggs appears to have combined text from at least two other suicide notes from elsewhere on the Web, with a short addition at the end. Biggs' note is transcribed here, while the two that he borrowed from are here and here.

Yet as time went on, more of those watching agreed that it was hard to tell if Biggs was breathing.  ("Umm he hasn't moved in a long time," "any movement?").  Someone dug up a cellphone number Biggs had posted to the forum earlier this year, and several people attempted to call -- not everyone out of concern.

"Called and went straight to voice mail," wrote a member named Eshamed51, boasting that he left a message in which he used an anti-gay slur encouraging Biggs to "do it."

At this point, a forum member named Bulker began to take the situation much more seriously. He looked up and posted information for the Miami police and Broward County sheriff, and encouraged other posters to call immediately. Appearing increasingly frantic from his messages, Bulker wrote that he couldn't call the police because he was in India. "Misc., don't let this happen," he wrote to the message board.

Eventually several members reported that they called the police.

"Police are on it (Yes called them)," wrote one poster.  "I think there's a high chance of fraudin going on here, but even more reason to bust him hard on it. He's either in a lot of trouble, or will be woken up soon when they kick in his door. Watch the cam for swat team."

Nearly 40 minutes after the first round of calls, the message board lit up with announcements and images showing that the police had arrived. Various copies of the video around the Internet indeed reveal police officers breaking into Biggs' room, looking around and finally blocking the Web cam. For posters, the arrival of the authorities seemed to bring the reality of the situation into sharp focus. Many of those who had teased Biggs earlier began to recant, while others were simply in shock at what they were witnessing. 

"I can not believe what I just saw sitting at work in my cubicle," wrote one person. 

"Anyone else shaking from this...?" wrote another.

Expecting the worst, many posters began to hope that Biggs could be treated quickly.  But as one noted, "It seems like too long of a time, [his original post] was almost 12 hours ago."

— David Sarno

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