An Illinois mother is speaking out about her 22-year-old transgender daughter who took her own life two weeks ago ago by ingesting lethal "pong pong" seeds that she purchased online for $5.
Lucia Anderson, of Calumet City, bought the mysterious seeds, which come from a native Southeast Asia plant called cerbera odollam, from an e-commerce website, according to her mother, Natosha Anderson.
They often go undetected in toxicology reports, so statistical data on the number of suicides caused by the seeds is hard to determine.
"[Lucia] had just come out a few months ago as a woman, she was being bullied online after coming out on the [Internet], and it wasn't going the way she thought it would," Anderson, 40, tells PEOPLE. "My last words to her were, 'You're going to be fine,' and then I watched my kid die."
The killer pods, which are available for purchase on various wholesale sites, cause a prolonged and painful death by inducing complete heart block within hours of ingestion – deriving the apt nickname "suicide seeds," by Internet users.
"[Lucia] was laying on the bathroom floor and vomiting," Anderson says. "At first, I thought she was sick, but then she said that she had taken a pong bean, which I had never heard of."
R. Brent Furbee
Anderson was rushed to Franciscan St. Margaret Health in Hammond, Indiana, on February 15, where she died the same day, police confirms to PEOPLE.
R. Brent Furbee
"I'm still lost and it's just a piece of me, but I think it's important for people to be aware of this and just be aware of your kids," says Anderson. "You feel like you're the closest thing – you think you would see something, but people who are depressed, they have a good way of hiding things."
This is so hard... I've been in Bernard's life since 4yrs old... He was 22yrs old and gone too soon. All I can do is sit back and ask myself is there more I could've done, could I have been there more to talk to him or something. This spirit of suicide is real and you really don't know what a person is dealing with or going through... I'm just looking at these Prom Pictures of him and his sister and their dates going on Prom.... He was so happy to go on Prom. I love and miss this dude like crazy. I don't call him stepson, this was my son and it hurts like hell... I pray for Nana.... No one knows how she really feels to lose her first born... later today is the funeral and I just want to say please pray for us.... Love you Bernard McCalipPosted by Troy T-faulk Faulkner on Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Experts say they are worried about the accessibility of "suicide seeds" online.
"Something like this has the potential to spread like wildfire," Indiana Poison Center medical director Dr. Daniel E. Rusyniak tells PEOPLE. "I get worried, because you get something like this that has the potential to become an phenomenon."