Dying for Sympathy

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Filed under: Practical Jokes and Mischief

U.S. man arrested for faking his own suicide live on the internet
by Paul Thompson
18th August 2009

fakesuicideAn American man sparked a frantic transatlantic search after faking his suicide on the internet.

Police in North Wales and New York state became involved in a race against time to find Joseph Shepherd after he said he was going to slash his wrists.

The 21-year-old had been talking with several people in Gwent, North Wales, in an internet chat room and complaining about his life.

He said he was depressed and was going to kill himself by slashing his wrists.

Chat room users watching Shepherd on a webcam at his home in Lockport, upstate New York,saw him lie down on his bed and remain still.

Fearing he had gone through with his suicide plan several people in Gwent, North Wales contacted police.

Officers in Gwent contacted Interpol in London to report a white male had committed suicide while broadcasting the event over the internet.

Interpol officials in London then contacted their counterparts in Washington, D.C., who in turn called the New York State Police Intelligence Centre in Albany.

Using the IP address information from Shepherd”™s computer, investigators were able to determine he was in the Lockport area.

Local state police were contacted and they were able to pinpoint Shepherd”™s address where he was found in good health.

Shepherd told police he had fallen asleep with the webcam left on.

Further investigation revealed that he had deliberately faked his suicide on camera.

Police spokesman Trooper Wayne Carr said:’Throughout the conversation, he kept repeatedly saying how he was going to basically commit suicide by slicing his wrists.’

While Shepherd had fallen asleep to others watching thousands of miles away on a webcam it appeared more sinister.

‘To everyone else that was looking at his Webcam over in England, it looked like he had potentially committed suicide,’ Carr said.

‘We have a printout of his chat room session stating what he was going to do.

‘He kept saying in there what he was going do and how he was going do it.’

Police believe a recent break up with his girlfriend led Shepherd to talk about suicide.

He has been charged with falsely reporting an incident and aggravated harassment and is due in court late this month.

Last year a 19-year-old student in Florida broadcast his death over the internet.

Abraham Briggs took a fatal overdose of pills in front of a live internet audience watching from their home computers.

Biggs, from Miami, Florida, announced his plans to kill himself over a website for bodybuilders.

Some members of his virtual audience encouraged him to do it, others tried to talk him out of it, and some discussed whether he was taking a dose big enough to kill himself.