Cross-posted from The Croydon Guardian.UK
A mother has called on the Government to ban assisted suicide websites after her son apparently killed himself after buying a suicide kit online.
Kevin Boyle of Old Lodge Lane, Purley, was reported missing on October 12, 2011. His body was discovered three months later at the bottom of a Coulsdon garden bordering Farthing Downs.
The 26-year-old was a talented chef who beat more than 1,500 competitors to become the youngest apprentice at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant.
Last week his inquest heard his body was too decomposed for a pathologist to determine a cause of death.
Recording an open verdict Coroner Dr Roy Palmer said it was likely Mr Boyle killed himself, but he could not be sure Kevin – who sent goodbye letters to friends and family which arrived after his death – intended to take his own life.
But Dr Palmer said he would write to the Prime Minister urging him to consider action against assisted suicide sites.
Paraphernalia bought from a foreign website found close to Mr Boyle’s body was described as ‘death in a bag,’ by Kevin’s mum Patti.
She said: “I believe there is sufficient evidence to suggest on the balance of probabilities Kevin committed suicide.
When buying the kit Mr Boyle was required to send the website a pdf copy of his passport, but no enquiries about terminal illness or his mental health history were made.”We have the email exchange ordering the kit and arranging payment and Kevin’s father took delivery of the kit delivered by an unidentifiable courier.”
Mrs Boyle said many assisted suicide websites present themselves as ‘support sites’ offering a forum where people can share problems, but her research uncovered chat rooms where people were openly encouraged to end their lives.
Assisting and promoting suicide is illegal under the 1961 Suicide Act, but no website operators have ever been prosecuted.
Mrs Boyle said: “It costs the economy £1.7m per suicide and in this particular case costs were even higher as extra resources were used to have Kevin found. How much are we prepared to spend before we see this as a problem?”
“We need to treat these sites the same way they treat pro-anorexia sites, shut them down-it doesn’t take millions of pounds to do. We are too forgiving of internet service providers, they earn millions and should be made to clean up their act.
Under Rule 43 of the Coroners Rules, Dr Palmer agreed to write to the Prime Minister urging him to consider action against assisted suicide sites.
Mrs Boyle said: “This is the beginning, it is by no means the end. The fact the letter will be sent to David Cameron allows me to challenge his office directly.”
A charity called Kevoirdo’s Big Love has been set up in Kevin’s name and aims to become a one stop intervention for anyone in mental distress, particularly young men.
Through its Facebook page those in serious distress can be directly referred to two support groups.
Mrs Boyle said: “I am not arrogant enough to say we have all the answers, but I am arrogant enough to say we will do this and cut suicide rates.”
Describing her son, she added: “Kevin was an amazing young man, he could walk into a room and it would light up.”