La Porte, Ind.--- June 18 will never be the same for the Flaherty family. It’s the day their daughter left this earth and it’s something they feel could have been avoided if it weren’t for the internet.
“This is the worst thing that I’ve ever experienced in my life,” DeAnn Garcia, Brittney Flaherty’s sister said.
Brittney Flaherty was a 16-year-old student at La Porte High School. She was in the band and played the drums. Her family describes her as kind, outgoing and very energetic, but she was also suffering from depression. So when she searched the internet for ways to kill herself, the answer was all too easy to find.
“She simply googled ‘how to commit suicide with a handgun’ and the website came right up,” Garcia said. “Then she went right into it.”
Now we are withholding the website from this article because we do not condone the actions of the site and do not wish to give it any promotion whatsoever.
However, the site is very easily accessible. It prompts users that you must be 18 in order to view the content of the site. With the simple click of a yes icon, you have access to everything on the site including in depth descriptions on how to commit suicide successfully in multiple ways. The site shows statistics on what are the most lethal forms of suicide, ranking “shotgun to head” as the most lethal, and also gives advice on how to kill yourself properly.
The website does offer links and numbers for hotlines to help give guidance to those seeking to commit suicide. However, it also describes in precise detail where to position a handgun for the most damage and even goes into detail on the placement of the gun so the bullet trajectory has the maximum effectiveness. This is the section of the website Brittney was directed to when she searched for ways to commit suicide with a handgun.
“It describes in detail, how to commit suicide, step by step,” Garcia said. “I don’t know how anybody would want to post anything like this. This is very disturbing to sit and read. It’s unbelievable that somebody would take their time to tell someone how to do it. It’s just disgusting.”
According to her cell phone records, Brittney had tried to reach out for help in the moments leading up to her suicide.
“She had called 911 and then hung up,” Garcia said. “911 only texted her back and never dispatched anyone to the home to check if everyone was OK.”
Garcia says she has been unable to get any answers regarding 911 protocols. When we contacted La Porte County’s 911 communications center, no one was available for comment. However, South Bend Dispatch, which does not have texting technology, says they get many hang up phone calls a day and if they have an address, they will send an officer to the location. But it’s more difficult with cell phones because they do not get a precise location, only within about 300 meters.
Brittney’s family is still searching for answers regarding the 911 issues, but their bigger concern is getting the website Brittney visited taken down to prevent any other families from dealing with this problem.
“I wish I could find a way to get the website shut down or have them held accountable for their participation in helping people and telling them how to do it,” Garcia said. “Assisted suicide is illegal and that’s what the website is doing.”
If you or anyone you know is thinking of suicide, the following phone numbers and websites are to help prevent such tragedy.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Phone: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Veterans Crisis Line
Phone: 1-800-273-8255 and press 1 or text 838255
Garcia says she’ll never stop her efforts to take the website down for her sister.
“My mom will never have grandchildren from her. My mom will never get to see her daughter get married. She will never see her daughter graduate,” Garcia said. “Everything was taken away because of that site.