Local Lawsuit Blames Penn, Amazon.com in Student’s Suicide

The nursing major bought cyanide online.

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A complaint filed on behalf of a 20-year-old University of Pennsylvania nursing student who died by suicide in her dorm room in February 2013 blames Amazon.com for allowing the sale of the cyanide she used to kill herself.

The complaint, filed in Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas, also names Penn as a defendant, alleging that the university exhibited “unsympathetic, hostile and at times vindictive” behavior toward the student, Arya Singh.

In 2011, Singh, of Allentown, reported to police and to Penn officials that she had been sexually assaulted in her dorm room by a fellow student. The district attorney declined to prosecute the case; the university took steps to isolate Singh from the student she accused. The complaint states that Penn’s inquiry was delayed as a result of the school’s revision of procedures for investigating accusations of sexual assault. It further claims that Singh fell into depression and began drinking heavily as a result of her assault, leading to academic problems and student conduct offenses. Singh was placed on academic probation in January 2013 and told to vacate university housing by February 8th of that year. She was found unresponsive in her room that day and later died.

According to the complaint, Singh bought the soluble cyanide salts she used to kill herself from a Thai company through Amazon in December 2012 even though the online retailer had in place policies preventing such sales in the U.S. The suit alleges that 51 other purchases of the salts were made through Amazon, resulting in 11 deaths. Days before Singh’s death, the complaint says, Amazon revised its policies to prevent all such sales.

For confidential support if you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Learn about the warning signs of suicide at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.