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Ontario man charged with selling sodium nitrite for suicide appears in court

Editor’s note: If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental health there are a number of ways to get help, including by calling Talk Suicide Canada at 1-833-456-4566. A list of local crisis centres is also available here.

The Mississauga man accused in two cases of aiding and abetting suicide briefly appeared in a Brampton court Tuesday morning, as the Canadian justice system appears poised to wrestle with a case that could have impacts worldwide.

Kenneth Law, 57, faces two counts of aiding and abetting the deaths of two people in Peel Region, allegedly through the online sales of sodium nitrite, a legal substance that is lethal in high concentrations.

The case is being watched as far away as the United Kingdom, where several families believe their troubled loved ones were among the recipients of the 1,200 packages police allege Law sent to more than 40 countries from the Lincoln Green post office in a Mississauga mall.

“How can so many suicides be linked? There’s something going on behind the scenes,” said Lee Cooper from the U.K.

Cooper believes his 41-year-old brother Gary consumed sodium nitrite mailed from Canada last year.

Alongside Cooper, 23-year-old Neha Raju and 22-year-old Tom Parfett died in the U.K., 20-year-old Noelle Ramirez died in Colorado, and 17-year-old Anthony Jones died in Michigan.

In some cases, family members found packaging with the names of some of the companies police have tied to Law after they died.

Peel police say they have been tracking the packages sent from these companies, including Imtime Cuisine and Icemac, and police in Colorado and the U.K. did a blitz of welfare checks to possible customers in recent days.

In Saskatchewan, Regina’s police service confirmed to CTV News Toronto it is re-examining a death after being alerted to it by their coroner's service on May 4.

Halifax’s Regional Police also told CTV News Toronto they conducted a wellness check after being contacted by Peel Regional Police.

Sodium nitrite is advertised in a particular pro-suicide online forum, which CTV News Toronto is not naming, as a painless death — something that experts say is simply not true. Until recently, it was sold by majoronline retailers with few restrictions.

Coroners and medical examiners say since 2020, sodium nitrite was related to 30 deaths in Ontario, 15 in B.C., two in Manitoba, and one in New Brunswick.

Provincial coroner and medical examiner statistics of sodium nitrite deaths in select provinces across Canada since 2020.

Government staff in Alberta refused to disclose the number of deaths there, citing election rules.

Advocates say the case has laid bare the lack of regulation on product sales and messaging on websites that have direct reach to people with suicidal thoughts.

“Every day that we’re not doing something in terms of regulating these online platforms, people are suffering, and we have people that are dying as a result,” said Monique St Germain of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.

Canada’s heritage ministry has said it’s working on a bill to reduce online harms, promising a "made in Canada" solution to protect vulnerable internet users.

Gary Cooper. Lee Cooper believes his 41-year-old brother Gary consumed sodium nitrite mailed from Canada last year. (Supplied) Top Stories

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