Webcam Catches Attempted Suicide on Tape

An Arizona father saves his daughter minutes before she hangs herself.

July 8, 2009, 3:44 PM

July 9, 2009 — -- A man frantically called his girlfriend's home as he watched her on his webcam hang herself, sending the woman's father racing downstairs to cut her down.

Mohamed Hossain received a phone call about 9 a.m. Tuesday from his daughter's boyfriend who told him that the 21-year-old was trying to hang herself from a ceiling fan in the family's Phoenix, Ariz., home, according to authorities.

"Her parents ran downstairs and found her hanging by a scarf from the ceiling fan," said Detective James Holmes of the Phoenix Police Department.

"The dad very quickly cut her down and by the time our officers got there she was breathing and semi-conscious," said Holmes. The woman's name was not released due to privacy concerns.

Holmes said that the woman and her Michigan-based boyfriend, who has also not been identified, had been chatting on an online service run by Microsoft when they got into an argument that evidently spurred the suicide attempt.

Reached for comment by, representatives for Microsoft said they were still looking into the incident.

"They got into an argument and the boyfriend threatened to leave the country and she got very upset," said Holmes. "She climbed on top of a small table and tied one end of a scarf around her neck and the other to a ceiling fan and proceeded to hang herself.

"All of this was caught on the webcam, you can see it happening," said Holmes, who confirmed that the woman has since been released from a hospital where she was taken following the incident.

Cops Relieved Incident Didn't Result in Death

"We got really lucky," said Holmes. "This was a good story to me only in the fact that she's still alive and the boyfriend and dad did the right thing."

How long the couple had been dating and how they met was unclear, according to Holmes, but the woman's parents were aware the couple had been in contact.

Authorities have since taken the woman's laptop in order to figure out whether the recording of the attempted suicide was disseminated on the Internet.

While they believe that the chat the two were participating in was private and password protected, Holmes said investigators want to be certain that the footage did not get leaked in order to prevent the possibility of copycat incidents.

"We're worried it's going to get out and she's going to become a victim again," said Holmes. So far, Holmes does not believe anyone other than the boyfriend and authorities have seen the video.

Hossain declined to speak to regarding his daughter's suicide attempt but told local reporters that he had been sleeping when the incident began.

The boyfriend said, "Your daughter is going to die right now," Hossain told Fox 10 of Phoenix.

"I got the knife and cut the long clothes she tied with it, released her and laid her down on the floor," he said.

Webcam Suicide the Latest in Internet Cybercrime

For detectives in Phoenix, this is not the first time in recent months that the Internet has been used to broadcast horrific acts.

In June, a Phoenix man was arrested after allegedly using a webcam to live-stream a video of himself raping his girlfriend of two weeks while she lay unconscious in her bed.

And in November 2008, a Florida teenager used a webcam to live-stream his suicide while other Internet users egged him on.

Broward County, Fla., authorities estimated that approximately 1,300 people watched as 19-year-old Abraham Biggs killed himself.

Biggs had been blogging on an online body-building message board and had linked to his page on, a live video streaming Web site, where the camera rolled as he overdosed on prescription pills, according to authorities.

In the wake of the second cybercrime in the Phoenix area in less than two months, Holmes said that he's relieved the woman is now safe but that the entire incident serves as a grave reminder of how the Internet can be abused.

"The Internet is such a useful tool to all of us yet it's so absolutely dangerous that it's scary," said Holmes.

"It's just sad."