Grieving family raising awareness about suicide assistance websites

Local

May 22 will never just be another day for York Haven mother, Jackie Bieber. 

“I thought, ‘let me just go and check on her,’ and when I knocked on her door, I didn’t hear anything. I had opened the door, and then I found her on the floor,” she said. 

Twenty-five-year-old Shawn Shatto, her eldest daughter, had taken her own life after years of struggling with severe depression, anxiety and agoraphobia. 

“She always told me that she didn’t want to die, but she didn’t want to live,” Jackie Bieber said. 

Shawn’s bedroom was treated like a crime scene, but without any missing pill bottles, investigators were puzzled by how she died, until someone picked up her phone. 

“I feel like they murdered my daughter,”  Jackie Bieber said. 

Shawn had been using a self-described ‘pro-choice’ suicide forum. In one of her last posts, she asks the forum for advice about a powder poison recipe she found on the website. 

“They tell you where to get it from, how much you need, when to start taking it,” said Chip Bieber, Shawn’s stepfather. 

In her final post — after she took the mixture — she told the forum she was terrified. 

“When she said she was terrified, there was no support. When she was saying how much she has taken, they were cheering her on,” said Beth Hoffman, Shawn’s aunt. 

The group wished her safe travels and good luck — and then she was gone, both from this world and later, the website. Shawn’s family said her activity has been scrubbed from the site and a new disclaimer with a suicide hotline number has since been added. 

“They say they’re a pro-choice, but there was nothing in there when she was doing this that gave her an option to live — just a choice to die,” Jackie Bieber said. 

In the days since, the online forum has retaliated against Shawn’s family. One member said they were narcissistic and told the family they should reflect on their own role in her death. 

“People are hiding behind a keyboard — they could be sadistic people that are just encouraging young vulnerable people — anybody could go on that website, a 10-year-old, a 14-year-old,” Chip Bieber said. 

Shawn is no longer here, but her legacy cannot die. Her family hopes her story will get the website shut down and prevent another family from burying their child.  

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones. Call 1-800-273-8255.

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