The St. Petersburg, Fla., city council passed a law today (Sept. 29) designed to scuttle a rock group's plans to feature an onstage suicide.

The St. Petersburg, Fla., city council passed a law today (Sept. 29) designed to scuttle a rock group's plans to feature an onstage suicide. The hard rock band Hell On Earth had said that a suicide by a terminally ill person would take place during a concert Saturday to raise awareness of right-to-die issues.

In response, the city council met today to unanimously approve an emergency ordinance making it illegal to conduct a suicide for commercial or entertainment purposes, and to host, promote and sell tickets for such an event. "While I still think it's a publicity stunt, we still couldn't sit idly by and let somebody lose their life," council member Bill Foster said.

A Florida law already makes assisting in a suicide manslaughter, a second-degree felony.

Tampa-based Hell Of Earth, known for such outrageous onstage stunts as chocolate syrup wrestling and grinding up live rats in a blender, created the furor by announcing the suicide would happen Saturday at the Palace Theater in downtown St. Petersburg. But the theater's owner, David Hundley, promptly canceled the band's show, and another venue also turned away the event.

Band leader BillY Tourtelot has vowed that the concert and suicide will still take place at an undisclosed location in the city, and broadcast live on the band's Web site. "This show is far more than a typical Hell On Earth performance," Tourtelot said in a statement on the group's official Web site. "This is about standing up for what you believe in, and I am a strong supporter of physician-assisted suicide."

A message left for Tourtelot was not immediately returned. Hell On Earth is playing clubs in support of its independently produced album, "All Things Disturbingly Sassy."


AP LogoCopyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.