A year later: York County mother who lost daughter to suicide website talks grief, Shawn’s Law

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OBERLIN, Pa. (WHTM) — Last May, 25-year-old Shawn Shatto, who lived in York County with her family, took her own life with the help of strangers on a suicide forum.

Friday was the anniversary of her death, but it’s not the end of her story.

Jackie Bieber, Shawn’s mom, had a decision. She could collapse underneath the weight of her grief or she could stand up and fight in her daughter’s memory.

“I made a wish for her today that she could feel the love from here,” said Beth Hoffman, Shawn’s aunt.

There’s a good chance she’s feeling it — and giving it back.

“It’s been a crazy roller-coaster week,” Bieber said. 

Her headstone was installed, a memorial billboard was put back up on Interstate 83 — and the big one — Shawn’s Law passed in the State House, stiffening the penalties for people who assist others in suicide. 

“Especially anyone under the age of 18 or has an intellectual disability,” Bieber said.

It’s been anything but easy. Jackie’s family has endured abuse from members of the site that helped Shawn die. 

“They have her listed as one of the many success stories — is what they use it as — to encourage other people to die that way,” Bieber said.

It’s an added weight to an already battered heart. 

“Some days I just feel like giving up, and then I get a message out of the blue from somebody saying, ‘I just lost my son or my daughter.'” Bieber said.

To Jackie, those are her sons and daughters, too. 

“There shouldn’t even be a law that has to be put in place. It’s a sad, sad thing that we even have to have something like this, but there are people out there in our society that are evil,” she said.

An evil that is no match for light. Jackie hopes the Pennsylvania Senate lights one of its own and passes the bill to save other vulnerable people.

“Like my daughter — she was in a dark place and ended up going to the wrong place, and she could have been here today,” Bieber said.

In Shawn’s place is a stone, heavy as her mother’s heart, but also a memory of a gentle, kind-hearted woman who always brought the light. 

“Through her darkness, I don’t think she knew or felt it, maybe. I don’t know, but she is just loved beyond measure,” Bieber said.

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