Coroners slam Amazon for selling 'suicide book' after two Cheshire deaths

-Credit: (Image: AP)
-Credit: (Image: AP)

Coroners have slammed Amazon for selling 'suicide books'. The publications have been involved in the deaths of at least two people in Cheshire, with four coroners nationally raising concerns about the product.

In December, the area coroner for Cheshire wrote to Amazon to warn about the sale of the books after the death of Adrian Gallagher — but it was revealed at the inquest into another death in which the publications were involved in March that Amazon had not responded to the concerns and the books were still available for purchase.

In December 2023, an inquest found Adrian Gallagher, 24, had ended his own life at Hollins Park Hospital in Winwick, Warrington, a mental health facility. The coroner's report details a product purchased through Amazon that played a part in his death on November 10, 2017.

READ MORE: Coroner to write to Amazon as man dies by suicide after buying product online | Adrian Gallagher died aged 24 at Hollins Park Hospital, Warrington, after purchasing a product on the internet

READ MORE: Amazon blasted over sale of 'suicide manual' used by retired Cheshire GP to plan her death | Mary Jones, 86, was found dead at her home in Knutsford

In the report, area coroner for Cheshire Victoria Davies writes: "Whilst the introduction suggests it is aimed at those who are elderly and long-term suffering, there is also reference to suicide for other reasons and is likely to appear to vulnerable mental health patients."

In November 2023, former GP Mary Jones, 86, from Knutsford, died by suicide after consulting a book "readily available" through Amazon, according to Assistant Coroner for the coroner area of Cheshire, Elizabeth Wheeler. In the inquest report from March 2024, Ms Wheeler said Ms Jones consulted "well known suicide book” before taking her own life.

Ms Wheeler said she had "received evidence that this book is readily available on following a simple search," and that the book was also available "for expedited delivery" with Amazon Prime.

Ms Wheeler writes: “Amazon, or the algorithms, are clearly aware of the potential for harm that this book can cause as there is a banner at the top giving contact numbers for the Samaritans."

She added: "Despite this, the book is still on sale. I am aware that the Area Coroner for Cheshire wrote to Amazon in December 2023 raising this same issue, but has not yet had a response."

Mary’s daughter, Christine Wadsworth, told The Mirror: “It is shocking you can just get a book like that. I don’t think it should be on sale.”

Further afield, Deborah Cooper, 61, from Melksham, Wiltshire, died in February. A digital publication was found on her PC. Wiltshire Coroner David Ridley issued a Prevention of Future Deaths notice, expressing his “utmost concern” about the “marketing and supply of such a book” and told Amazon it had the power to prevent future deaths.

The author of two of the books told the BBC that it is the “right of rational adults to have the information”. But Lauren Rolfe, from charity Suicide Prevention UK, said: “These people are in a mental health crisis. It’s going to support them with their aim.” Amazon said: “As a bookseller, we offer a broad range of viewpoints, including books some may find objectionable. We have content guidelines governing which books can be listed.”

In January, a Samaritans spokesperson told CheshireLive: “The internet can be an invaluable resource for people who are struggling with their wellbeing to access information and find sources of support, but unfortunately it’s all too easy to find harmful content too. Online market places need to take urgent action to understand how vulnerable users may be using their sites and ensure that measures are put in place to better protect people struggling with their mental health and direct them to support.”

The Samaritans is available 24/7 if you need to talk. You can contact them for free by calling 116 123, email or head to the website to find your nearest branch. You matter.

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