British police are investigating the deaths of 88 people in the U.K. who bought products from Canada-based websites allegedly offering lethal substances to people at risk of self harm, the country's National Crime Agency said Friday.
The probe is part of international inquiries sparked by the arrest in Canada earlier this year of Kenneth Law, who has been charged with two counts of counseling and aiding suicide.
Canadian police say Law, from the Toronto area, used a series of websites to market and sell sodium nitrite, a substance commonly used to cure meats that can be deadly if ingested.
Police said Law is suspected of sending at least 1,200 packages to more than 40 countries.
Authorities in the United States, Italy, Australia and New Zealand also have launched investigations.
Britain's National Crime Agency said it has identified 232 people in the U.K. who bought products from the websites in the two years until April, 88 of whom had died.
The agency said it was investigating whether any crimes had been committed in the U.K., but said that "at this early stage there are no confirmed links between the items purchased from the websites and cause of death in any of these cases."
"Our deepest sympathies are with the loved ones of those who have died. They are being supported by specially trained officers from police forces," said National Crime Agency Deputy Director Craig Turner.
There were 5,583 suicides reported in England and Wales in 2021, equivalent to a rate of 10.7 deaths per 100,000 people, according to U.K. government statistics. Last year, nearly 50,000 Americans died by suicide, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
It is estimated that there are currently more than 700,000 suicides per year around the globe, according to the World Health Organization.
If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or a suicidal crisis, you can reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988. You can also chat with the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline here.
For more information about mental health care resources and support, The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–10 p.m. ET, at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or email email@example.com.
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