Should you go to jail for telling someone to commit suicide? | The Tylt
Michelle Carter was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to two and a half years in prison for encouraging her boyfriend Conrad Roy to commit suicide. Many people think that was the right outcome. If anything, Carter should face more time in jail. Others say while what she did was wrong, Carter doesn't deserve to go to jail. Suicide is ultimately a choice and it's impossible to prove Carter's texts caused Roy to kill himself. What do you think? 🤔
Should you go to jail for telling someone to commit suicide?
What Michelle Carter did was reprehensible but some people think do not believe she, or anyone, deserves to go to jail over it. People are defending Carter by arguing suicide is ultimately a personal choice. It's unclear if her words directly caused his suicide, or if she had said something else, he'd still be alive. Roy had a history of suicide attempts.
That's not to say people shouldn't face consequences if they encourage others to commit suicide. People should be held accountable. But charging someone with manslaughter or murder goes too far. We're talking about a decision that could have dramatic consequences for free speech.
But the ugliness of this particular case doesn’t negate the underlying principle: that to be guilty of manslaughter, you have to have actually killed someone, and words don’t kill people. Roy was a vulnerable young man with a history of suicide attempts. And speech, even bad speech, is widely protected by the First Amendment. It isn’t in society’s best interests to criminalize conversations about suicide — imagine, again, the woman with the terminal illness and her supportive partner.
For many people, it comes down to choice. Carter, for all the ugly and disgusting things she did, did not force her boyfriend to commit suicide. Should we start prosecuting random YouTube commenters when they implore people to kill themselves?
What happened is tragic but that doesn't mean Carter is a killer.
Others say it's plain and clear what Carter did. She repeatedly encouraged her boyfriend to commit suicide. She talked him into getting back into the car after he texted her saying he was afraid. She refuted points Roy brought up about not committing suicide. According to prosecutors, Carter asked Roy when he was going to kill himself over 40 times.
Whether suicide is ultimately a personal choice or not, Carter did her best to guide her boyfriend to that point and encouraged him to take that final step. Words have consequences. If you encourage someone to commit suicide, you share in the responsibility for their death. It's that simple.