New Law Passed to Prohibit Suicide at Concert, Band Will Ignore It

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 30, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Law Passed to Prohibit Suicide at Concert, Band Will Ignore It

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 30, 2003

St. Petersburg, FL ( — Although city leaders passed an emergency cordinance prohibiting a suicide at a concert, the lead singer for a Florida-based industrial metal band Hell on Earth says a planned suicide will continue at a concert at an unannounced location this weekend.

On Monday, the St. Petersburg city council unanimously passed an emergency city ordinance making it illegal to conduct a suicide for commercial or entertainment purposes and to host, promote or sell tickets to such an event.

That’s not stopping the ban from going on with the show, according to Hell on Earth lead singer Billy Tourtelot.

"This show is far more than a typical Hell On Earth performance. This is about standing up for what you believe in and I am a strong supporter of physician-assisted suicide. This performance will go on in its entirety and it will be in St. Petersburg on October 4th," he said in a statement appearing on the band’s web site.

A fan of the band who is a member of a pro-euthanasia organization wrote Tourtelot asking to kill himself onstage during a concert. Tourtelot agreed and has said he will not back down from the pledge he made the fan to allow the death.

Local officials are doing everything they can to stop the concert, which the band says will be shown live on the Internet.

"While I still think it’s a publicity stunt, we still couldn’t sit idly by and let somebody lose their life,” council member Bill Foster told the Associated Press.

St. Petersburg Circuit Judge John Lenderman allowed the city to file a temporary injunction against the band on Monday. The action prevents the band from advertising the show and the suicide. Lenderman scheduled a hearing in the lawsuit on Tuesday.

The band originally planned the suicide for a show at the State Theater in downtown St. Petersburg.

However, David Hundley, owner of the venue, said he is not going to allow the concert to take place. He was certain the request was a publicity stunt or an illusion, but he was worried what some "nut case" might do anyway.

The owner of another club won’t allow the band to move its show there. Matt Mullins, who owns Club Venom in Pinellas Park, Florida, won’t let the band play there either if the suicide is part of the act.

In a press release, the terminally ill fan wrote: "I thank the Lord that Hell on Earth is giving me this opportunity to end my suffering."

Tourtelot would not disclose any details about the terminally ill person or say how the person planned to kill himself.

If the band goes through with the plan, it could be hit with secondary felony charges for assisting in the commission of self-murder.

Tourtelot denies that is a publicity stunt or a crime: "We have legal representation, and this is not illegal. I’m definitely not assisting in any suicide . . . What I’m doing may be immoral, but it’s not illegal."

The band is infamous for its ridiculous stage antics.

Past band performances have included sodomizing skinned calves and blending dead rats then having fans drink the concoction.