Suicide rockers postpone on-stage death

A concert that was to feature an on-stage suicide of a terminally ill person was postponed on Saturday because the website that was to broadcast the event was attacked, the operator of the site said.

The website for the band Hell on Earth was attacked on Saturday evening by a flood of data from computers somewhere in Hong Kong, said Jason Trindade, the operator of a San Diego-based technology company that hosts the site.

”There’s been a huge amount of traffic, which causes the server to lock up,” Trindade said.

Trindade said he was told by Hell on Earth leader Billy Tourtelot that the performance would be postponed, possibly until next weekend.

Several attempts to reach Tourtelot on Saturday night were not immediately successful.

City and state officials had warned they would pursue criminal charges if the band went through with the suicide plan, and a judge had issued an order banning the event.

Tourtelot had said Saturday morning the concert and suicide would take place that night in two separate, undisclosed locations in St Petersburg. He wouldn’t give any more details on the venues.

Tourtelot’s announcement last month that he would host the suicide of a terminally ill fan led the city to ban the event with an ordinance and prompted the court injunction.

The band asked fans to visit their website for the performance, but no video was shown. Instead, a link to another site appeared, as did the following message: ”Next week the show will go on.”

Trindade said the site was victimised by a denial-of-service attack, which is designed to hamper or shut down a computer system by flooding it with huge amounts of data. He did not immediately know how the site would address the problem.

Emergency dispatchers in St Petersburg and Pinellas County reported they had no calls reporting a suicide nearly two hours after the event was to have taken place. In St Petersburg, officials were on alert for calls of a suicide or suspicious death.

Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist has said that anyone who assists in a suicide could be charged with a felony and face up to 15 years in prison.

The person threatening suicide has said he is dying and wants to promote his right-to-die views. Tourtelot (33) said he was standing up for what he believed in to grant his friend his dying wish.

”There’s nothing bad about that. It’s giving the right to die with human dignity and compassion for those that we love,” he said.

Kevin Hayslett, an attorney for Tourtelot, said the band leader wanted to go ahead with the show despite the lawyer’s advice that he not do so. Hayslett said he did not know the concert’s location.

Tourtelot said opposition from St Petersburg city officials helped the band promote the concert.

”I think they wasted a lot of people’s tax dollars,” he said.

City officials did not return phone messages on Saturday.

The other members of the band have not been heard from throughout the controversy, which has earned the group worldwide publicity.

Trindade said he would continue serving the site and carry the concert until he receives complaints from law enforcement officials to shut it down, although he said he found the band’s plans to be ”pretty twisted”.

”They haven’t broken any law and I can’t just turn them off,” he said. — Sapa-AP

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