'Suicide pact' of Braintree car death pair

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionMelvyn Lumb: 'We would watch football goals on the laptop together'

A man and a woman who died in a suspected suicide pact in Essex are believed to have met online on a forum for people contemplating suicide.

Stephen Lumb, 35, of Sowerby Bridge, Yorkshire, and Joanne Lee, 34, of Great Notley, Essex, were found inside a car in Essex on Monday.

Messages Ms Lee posted on an internet forum appeared to suggest she wanted a partner for a suicide pact.

She posted messages using the name Heavens Little Girl.

Ms Lee's mother, Jill Chappell, said: "We didn't know what she was doing. If we had we would have tried to stop her."

'Complete shock'

Truck driver Mr Lumb is believed to have driven 200 miles to Braintree to meet Ms Lee.

Catherine Johnstone, chief executive of Samaritans, said: "The internet can be a place to find friendship and like-minded people to chat to, but sometimes it can also be harmful, as seen in these tragic suicides.

"A distressed person can meet another person online and, instead of finding help and support, they end up encouraging each other to do something they might not have done alone."

Mr Lumb's father Melvyn, who shared a home with his son, said of the deaths: "He didn't seem any different, he had the same mannerisms. I didn't know her, I knew nothing about her.

"He liked a beer and football, normal lad. It is a complete shock, I never expected anything like this. It is the last thing I would have expected.

"I loved him. I will miss him everyday of my life. I will miss him every minute of every day. I thought the world of him. I couldn't have had a better son."

Ms Johnstone said the Samaritans was working with social networking sites to help them and their users offer support to people in distress.

She said: "It is illegal to encourage or assist people to take their own lives - be it on the internet or in any other space - but it is unclear how this recently-amended legislation will be applied and policed.

"In the meantime, what we are doing is making sure that Samaritans' website is one of the search engine results when a person looks for suicide-related information online, so that the option is there for them to seek help."

Essex Police said the deaths were "highly unusual" and confirmed that "noxious" substances had been found inside the vehicle.

The car had notes placed on the windows warning of the toxic chemicals inside.

Firefighters had to wear gas-tight suits to remove the bodies from the car, parked near Braintree Enterprise Centre.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites