Smart Talk: Fighting to save lives from suicide

York family shares heartbreaking story of daughter's death

  • Merideth Bucher/WITF

When a person dies by suicide their family and friends are left wondering how they could have prevented it from happening. Their feelings of helplessness and despair can be overwhelming.

But imagine realizing that your loved one wasn’t “alone” when they died but were given instructions on how to kill themselves and encouraged to follow through.

A York family is dealing with that reality after the death of their 25-year-old daughter in May.

Chip and Jackie Bieber’s daughter, Shawn Shatto, died by suicide last month with the help of an online chat room. They want to raise the alarm that these internet sites exist and are legal in Pennsylvania and much of the country. The Biebers joined Smart Talk on July 1 to share their story.

Also, the statewide Suicide Prevention Task Force formed on May 29 to develop a long-term strategy to reduce suicide in Pennsylvania. On average, one person dies by suicide every four hours in Pennsylvania.

Appearing on Smart Talk to talk about their vision and prevention strategy were Govan Martin, chair of the Prevent Suicide PA Board of Directors and a member of the Suicide Prevention Task Force, Dr. Perri Rosen of the PA office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and Caitlin Palmer, special adviser to the secretary of the Department of Human Services and lead agent on the Suicide Prevention Task Force.

If you or someone you know is in need of help or someone to talk to, please contact the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 800-273-8255 (TTY at 800-799-4889) or visit

Key Points

:25 – Shawn Shatto’s Story

11:20 – Protected speech or inciting violence?

25:20 – Suicide and stigma

39:32 – Screening and first-responders

Up Next

‘They’re bursting at the seams’: As Hahnemann closes labor unit, concerns over lack of maternity wards in Philly