A heartbroken mother has slammed a sadistic website which encouraged her son to take his own life after he died in a double suicide pact.
Brett Stevens, 28, met a woman online and travelled from Tunstall, Staffs, to Scotland to meet up with her in person.
The pair then rented an Airbnb before taking a lethal substance as part of a suicide pact – with Brett’s mum Angela discovering he had been spending times on suicide forums.
Angela learned that Brett had been accessing forums which promoted suicide and went into details about how to take your own life.
But despite raising concerns about the website and her son’s death, an inquest into Brett’s death did not look into the websites as part of their evidence.
According to Stoke-on-Trent Live, the National Crime Agency, two police forces and the government have all be made aware of the websites.
Angela is now warning others about the dangers of the websites, and wants more to be done to punish those responsible for setting them up and promoting them.
She believed her son had been heading off for a holiday in Norway when she last saw him in November 2019, and that he was returning on December 5.
But after failing to show up at the family home, his mum reported him as a missing person – with police then contacting officials in Norway.
Officers then confirmed that he was actually at a holiday cottage in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, after pinging his phone.
Brett, who was diagnosed with autism when he was 15, had met up with the 24-year-old woman, who is understood to have flown over from the Netherlands.
Mrs Stevens told Stoke-on-Trent Live: “Brett had told me he was going on holiday. Personally, we were going through a bad time and he was having meltdowns because of his anxiety. He was worrying about things.
“He came to me and said he felt like he needed to get away for a bit and have a holiday. I thought it would be a good idea for him to take a break.
“My son left letters and notes in his phone saying the reason he had taken his life was because the bank was going to repossess the house.
“The minute that they know you are vulnerable and you are more open to suggestions because of your mental health state, they pounce on you.
“They are the most sociopathic people out there. They get some sort of sadistic kick out of other people’s misery and then laugh about it when they go ahead and take their own lives.
“They encourage their members to hide the site and get rid of any evidence of the site from their devices.
“They coach them on how you should be acting in front of friends, family and medical professionals so they don’t suspect you are going to take your own life.
“The website is preying on vulnerable people. These people are told all the time by other members that are not there to take their own lives, they are pressured. If he came to me I would’ve reported the site.”
After Brett’s death his mum discovered that he had been a member of the sites since 2018, and had been receiving messages saying “your life is not going to get any better”.
Angela alerted the coroner’s office to the phone evidence, but they did not mention any of the circumstances involving the website during the inquest hearing.
She added: “I am disappointed they didn’t mention it. I sit here now and go over the last couple of years, and I’ve seen quite a few inquests in Stoke-on-Trent where it mentions chemical toxicity.
“I know it’s probably the substance that killed Brett, which indicates to me the people could have been on the website or knew people on it.
“The coroners have failed. Our government has known about the forum for several years, and has done nothing.”
The minute that they know you are vulnerable and you are more open to suggestions because of your mental health state, they pounce on you
There has been no criminal investigation into Brett’s death, despite his mum contacting the NCA regarding his case.
In England and Wales anyone who assists or encourages others to take their own lives could face prosecution.
An NCA spokesman said: “We have offered our sincerest sympathy to Angela for the loss of her son. The primacy for investigating the circumstances of his death sits with the police. We stand ready to assist them if we can.”
Assistant coroner Sarah Murphy told the inquest into Brett’s death last February: “There was evidence of Brett’s low mood and increased level of anxiety.
“His anxiety had been heightened due to fears about being made homeless. A letter and social media posts indicated an intention to end his own life.
“It is very clear to me that Brett was much loved by his family. There was no indication by Brett to his family that he was going to take the action he did, therefore there was nothing his family could have done to prevent this very tragic event from occurring.”
The Department for Health and Social Care added: “We condemn the existence of sites like this and the harmful impact they have on people’s lives.
“Online content encouraging suicide is illegal. Our new laws will force internet platforms including small websites and the search engines which list them to remove it.