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Pinellas County approves public suicide ban

By MICHAEL SANDLER, Times Staff Writer
Published October 22, 2003

CLEARWATER - Pinellas County commissioners banned public suicide countywide Tuesday, directly responding to a rock concert that had promised such an act this month in St. Petersburg.

Rock band Hell On Earth never delivered on a promise to feature a suicide as a statement in support of euthanasia at an Oct. 4 show. The publicity preceding the event prompted St. Petersburg's City Council to pass an emergency order forbidding the act last month.

Pinellas County commissioners went a step further Tuesday night, unanimously voting to ban all public suicide, as well as the promotion of public suicide.

County Attorney Jim Bennett said the ordinance could be in effect as early as Friday. Bennett said the ban would not interfere with St. Petersburg's emergency act, which made it illegal to conduct a suicide for commercial or entertainment purposes, or to host, promote or sell tickets for such an event.

The ordinance could be enforced by Pinellas County sheriff's deputies, with violators facing up to $500 in fines and up to 60 days in jail. However, county attorneys said the aim of the ordinance is to stop public suicides with an injunction issued by the courts.

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