Shawn’s Law: York County mom fights for tougher penalties against those who encourage others to take their own life

Investigators

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A mother’s love for her child never dies, which is why Jacqueline Bieber is still fighting for her daughter Shawn Shatto.

“It’s hard because my daughter is on that website shown as a success story. They have her as number 9,” Bieber said.

In May 2019, 25-year-old Shawn Shatto took her own life in her parents’ Newberry Township home. Shawn struggled with depression and anxiety. Her mother discovered after her death that Shawn was encouraged to take her own life and given a step-by-step guide on how to poison herself from a suicide website.

“I will never ever forget when I saw those messages from that website. It was just like the darkest feeling in the world. The very last thing that she said to them was ‘I just took it. I’m terrified,'” Bieber said.

The group encouraged Shawn to keep going and wished her “safe travels,” even though she told them her mom was right down the hall.

“She laid there for about five hours until I found her,” Bieber said.

Biber is now fighting to shut the website down, but has been told the site is protected by free speech.

“We are crying out to legislators to do something,” says Bieber.

Representative Dawn Keefer is hoping HB184, which has been named “Shawn’s Law” after Bieber’s daughter, will make a difference. The bill passed out of the House last year but stalled in the Senate.

“It would allow the judge to give harsher sentencing for anybody who aides or encourages someone to take their life by suicide. I have a couple of other groups who are helping me bring attention to this and get this expedited out,” Rep. Dawn Keefer (R-York, Cumberland) said.

One of the groups supporting Shawn’s Law is the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference.

“Kids are on the internet more than ever, especially during times of the pandemic. We know that depression rates have gone up and these kids are more vulnerable now than ever. I think we need to send a very clear message to these hate groups online leave our kids alone,” said Eric Failing, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Catholic Conference.

“It means the world to me and I am so thankful for them. There is no place for this in our society and our lawmakers and leaders have to step up. We can’t allow this to continue,” Bieber said.

Althoug Shawn is gone from this world, she has come to her mom in her dreams.

“She was playing with the kids and she was laughing and she looked over at me and said ‘I love you, mommy,'” says Bieber.

The family says Shawn also sends them signs. She was a Harry Potter fan and her favorite character was Luna Lovegood.

“I have seen Luna months all over the place ever since,” Bieber said. “I did look up the meaning of it and it means spiritual renewal. It was like a sign “Mom, I’m OK.'”

Shawn’s Law is on the House calendar for a vote the week of March 15. The FBI is still investigating Shawn’s death.

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