A warning for all parents – a suburban mother’s message about a $5 purchase her son made online. It cost him his life. And many people haven’t even heard of this poison.
“I’m pretty sure he thought it was going to be easy, but it wasn’t. He died in pain. I was slow, and it was painful,” said mom Natosha Anderson
The 22-year-old was found lying on the family’s bathroom floor in Calumet City after being sick for hours. In his final moments, Bernard admitted to intentionally ingesting seeds bought online.
“He said, ‘I can’t feel my heart.’ And I said, ‘What’s wrong? What’s going on?’ And he said, ‘I took a pong seed.’ And I said, ‘A what? What is that?'” Anderson said. “The police, the paramedics, they didn’t even know, no one knew.”
Hours later, McCalip died at Franciscan St. Margaret Hospital in Hammond, Ind.
“My last words to him were I love you, and his last words to me were, ‘I love you, mom no matter what,'” Anderson said. “I don’t know how I’m talking… I really don’t, I really don’t, but I think it’s important. I don’t want my son to die in vain.”
This deadly seed is called a “pong pong seed” around the world. It is an infamous killer in India and southeast Asia, where the “cerbera odollam” or “suicide tree” it grows on can be found.
These seeds have recently been showing up in the U.S. as websites, like eBay, sell the seeds for planting or decorating. Many researchers think more people may have taken their own lives using these “suicide seeds” than any other plant in the world. The poison within the seeds shut down a person’s heart.
“Cerberin appears to be one of the most lethal agents in this class of medications or natural plants,” said Dr. Roderick Tung, heart-rhythm specialist, University of Chicago Medicine.
Natosha says her son was transgender and he had been struggling with the desire to live life as a woman. He even recently changing his name to Lucia. His mother said she wasn’t aware of any depression or suicidal thoughts, however she says McCalip was bullied for many years in school.