Ava Passannanti’s room is just as she left it three years ago purses on hooks, the desk neatly organized and a lavender water bottle with water still inside.

The hole she’s left since her passing is a wound that will never heal, especially for her parents.

I think the pain is so excruciating because we know how much joy she brought to us,” Ava’s mother Annette Gallego said, wiping tears streaking down her cheeks.

Life without her has been just soso empty, so silent. Everything is just so quiet now,” her father James Passannanti added. “Colors dont look the same, the mountains dont look the same.

It was 19 days before Avas 19th birthday that her family said she ingested a lethal dose of sodium nitrite. She called 911 for help herself, but it was too late.

Annette and James said she bought the chemical online in December of 2021, just under two months before she took her life.

Now Ava’s family is in an ongoing legal battle with the site that sold her the sodium nitrite Amazon.

Eleven other families across the country joined the lawsuit after losing loved ones the same way.

Suicidality is not uncommon,” said lawyer Naomi Leeds, partner at C.A. Goldberg Law which represents the families.

“Whats uncommon is a poison that is this lethal that is just commonly available to be delivered right to your doorstep, unsuspectingly. And it wont pique the interest of family members who might even hand you that package.”

In the lawsuit, the families stated Amazons algorithm would suggest other products like anti-nausea medication and a suicide handbook after purchasing the sodium nitrite, since other customers frequently purchased those items in bundles.

They’re calling it a “suicide kit.”

According to documents, the families allege evidence going as far back as 2018 notified the company of how the product was actually being used, but it refused to remove the chemical.

The lawsuit argument is that Amazon was negligent in selling the product, while Amazon claims the opposite. It wasn’t until litigation began that it paused sales to households.

Amazon motioned to dismiss the case, but it was denied by the Washington State Supreme Court in June of last year.

KGUN 9 reached out to Amazon and its lawyers over the course of several months, finally receiving a reply half an hour before this story went to air:

We don’t have comment on active litigation.


Sodium nitrite is commonly used as a preservative in cured meats, like salami and smoked fish, but in extremely small doses.

For those who cure meat at home, the chemical can be purchased at around 6% purity.

Ava bought hers at 99% purity.

“Had we known, that would have changed everything,” Annette said.

In a video project for her alma mater Sabino High School, Ava is seen in her purple cap and gown talking about her takeaways from senior year.


Life as a quarantined 2020 senior is full of Zoom meetings and just loneliness, she said.

Ava struggled with mild depression. Annette and James said they were initially shocked to learn about their daughter’s diagnosis someone they knew to be a motivated student, a big dreamer and a lively spirit.

“I was like, ‘Depression? What? You? No way,'” Annette recalled.

They checked in with Ava all the time because they said they didn’t want mental health to be a taboo topic in their home, even enrolling her in an outpatient treatment program for depression.

Ava was scheduled for a session at the hospital the day she took her life, but she never showed up.

“We always told her, ‘Ava, if you feel like youre going to hurt yourself, if you feel like youre not going to be okay, just come to us. Come to us and we will talk you through it and get you to the next day. We will always get you through the next day,” James choked out.

“And she got her hands on something that she should have never had in her possession.”

Her parents said they were no red flags leading up to Ava’s death. She finished a 2021 dream board just a few days before, one that’s still propped up on her bed.

The last thing she needed in that moment, when she was feeling her worst was an assist,” James noted. “And what she did was got an assist, and Amazon was that assist.

Sodium nitrite has almost immediate effects on the body after ingestion.

“Minutes,” said Steve Dudley, Director of the Arizona Drug and Poison Information Center.

He and his colleagues have noticed the suicide trend picking up in the last two years in Pima County, the state and across the country.

A very common theme is theyll do this and then theyll immediately regret it. Its painful, its horrible, they call for help,” Dudley explained. “But because it does act so quickly, normally by the time help gets there, its too late unfortunately.

Dudley said two county review boards are working with the center to figure out if methylene blue can be stocked on EMS vehicles.

Its the only antidote for sodium nitrite and its currently not readily available to emergency workers outside of hospitals.

Theyre the ones who are going to have the biggest impact, potentially,” he said. “How fast they get there, what methods they can do, or intervention they can do to keep that patient alive.


According to paperwork obtained by KGUN, Amazons request to dismiss the case was denied by the Washington State Supreme Court in June of last year.

Its now with the states Court of Appeals for further consideration. Oral arguments are set for July 16 this year.

This suicide trend and the lawsuits have prompted Massachusetts Rep. Lori Trahan to introduce the Youth Poisoning Protection Act last year, which would ban the sales of high concentration sodium nitrite to households.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois introduced an identical bill a month later.

Even with a verdict in our clients favor, they will still go home depressed and sad,” said Carrie Goldberg, founder of the law firm. “But they will always be able to know that they avenged their childs death and that they taught Amazon a lesson.

That’s what James and Annette are hanging onto a glimmer of hope and a shred of positivity, like Ava’s birthday.

Every year since her passing, they go to bakeries around town and buy someone else’s birthday cake, sharing a bit about her story and touching hearts in the process.

One employee was so moved that she gave them hugs.

I feel like [Ava] likes that were doing this. Its just a nice way to honor her,” James said. “We cant have a birthday for her but maybe make someone elses birthday party better.

They also paint rocks in her memory and leave them at her favorite spots in Tucson, including Trail Dust Town on the Eastside. Some with a singular balloon, others with a message: “You are not alone. You are not forgotten.”

Its bittersweet cause we had so many beautiful memories. I wish she was here,” Annette said. “But if she cant be here, we definitely want to brighten someone elses day, show some kindness and put that out into the world.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health and/or thoughts of suicide, seek help with any of these resources 24/7:

Suicide/Crisis Lifeline: call or text 9-8-8 Arizona Lifeline: call 1-844-534-HOPE (4673) | text 4HOPE (44673) Arizona Teens Lifeline: call or text 1-800-248-TEEN (8336)