Police are investigating whether anyone in Scotland has died after buying a “suicide kit” on the internet.
The National Crime Agency says almost 300 people in the UK have bought the products from Canadian websites and 93 of them have lost their lives.
STV News understands police in the UK are carrying out regular welfare checks on a number of individuals, including in Scotland, who are believed to have bought the kits.
Among the British victims is 22-year-old Tom Parfett from Berkshire, who was a student at St Andrews University in Fife.
He died at a hotel in Surrey after taking a lethal substance that he ordered from a Canadian website believed to be run by a man named Kenneth Law.
His father David said: “I decided when I found out that Tom had died using a particular suicide kit to try and work out first of all how he knew about it and obviously how he got hold of and purchased it.”
That led him to an online forum where people openly discuss death.
“They present it as a perfectly reasonable way out of a mental health crisis and indeed actually encourage others to die.”
In April 2023, the National Crime Agency received intelligence suggesting that a number of people in the UK had purchased products from Canada-based websites that were selling substances to assist with suicide.
More than 270 individuals in the UK were identified as having purchased products from the websites in a two-year period up to April 2023.
A spokesperson for Police Scotland said: “We are liaising with partner agencies in relation to this matter. Our investigation is at a very early stage.”
Canadian authorities are also conducting investigations relating to deaths in Canada, and have announced the arrest and charge of a suspect.
Law, 57, is due to make his latest court appearance this week in the province of Ontario.
He has been in custody since May last year after being arrested in connection with a number of deaths in his home country.
He originally faced 14 charges of second-degree murder and abetting suicide.
But the case against him is now being upgraded to first degree murder, which in Canada carries a minimum jail term of 25 years.
Police suspect Law is the man behind the website that has been linked to the suicides in the UK, including that of Mr Parfett.
A spokesperson for the National Crime Agency said: “The National Crime Agency continues to investigate potential criminal offences linked to the deaths of individuals in the UK who purchased substances to assist with suicide from Canada-based websites.
“Our investigation explores all viable leads linked to these websites and a Canadian suspect in order to identify evidence of crimes committed in the UK.
“Specialist officers continue to provide support to victims and families.”
Help and support is available now if you need it. Details of services available can be found at stv.tv/advice
Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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