A leading California suicide prevention counsellor has condemned BRITNEY SPEARS for appearing to commit suicide in her misleading new video.

Britney insists the promo is all about reincarnation, not suicide, but DON AUSTEN fears her young fans won't see it that way.

In the video, Britney is seen stepping into a bath after a row with her boyfriend, and then slipping under the water as her spirit watches the lifesaving efforts going on around her. In a final scene a mother gives birth in a hospital ward, suggesting Spears has been reincarnated as the baby.

But Austen, the founder of Los Angeles' THURSDAY'S CHILD, insists the eerie video is open to misinterpretation and could encourage troubled teens to take their lives.

He fumes, "Britney Spears is one of the most influential teen role models on the planet, and this video is frightening in terms of its potential repercussions.

"When kids see this video over and over, it has a desensitising effect. There are a lot of confused kids around, and Britney's not considering the copycat effect. Instead, she's selfishly using controversy to market herself."

21/04/2004 21:10