Parents are now suing Amazon for allegedly selling their children suicide kits that resulted in their deaths.
The parents of 16-year-old Kristine Jónsson of Ohio and the parents of 17-year-old Ethan McCarthy of West Virginia claim that Amazon assisted in the suicide of their children by selling them sodium nitrite, an industrial chemical and food preservative that is lethal at high levels of purity.
On September 30, 2020, Kristine took her own life. And on January 7, 2021, Ethan also killed himself. Although there is no relationship between the families, each hired the same Brooklyn law firm.
The chemical purchased by the teens on Amazon is widely advertised in publications and on suicide forums online. “Amazon is selling a product that is as deadly as cyanide,” said Carrie Goldberg and Naomi Leeds, two attorneys for the families, who filed their case on September 29 in California state court.
The parents’ attorneys say:
“Amazon is selling a product that is as deadly as cyanide. 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.”
However, according to the lawsuit, the part that is problematic is the products Amazon was allegedly recommending be purchased along with sodium nitrite.
In a lengthy tweet thread dated October 6, Goldberg wrote that Amazon “recommends” that those interested in sodium nitrate “also buy Tagamet to avoid vomiting up the poison, a personal use scale to measure the proper quantity, and the Amazon Edition of the Peaceful Pill Handbook, a suicide manual with an entire chapter on how to die by [sodium nitrate.]”
One antidote for sodium nitrate poisoning, Methylene-blue, is unfortunately not well known among emergency responders, and Goldberg suggested that some young people have died while in the care of medical technicians who do not recognize the symptoms of sodium nitrate poisoning and/or do not know to administer Methylene-blue to counteract it. The Loudwolf product label makes no mention of Methylene-blue, Goldberg said.
In a statement, Amazon extended its “deepest condolences” to the families and loved ones of people affected by suicide, but as far as selling sodium nitrite goes, the company said,
“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.”