back to article Teen who texted boyfriend to kill himself gets 15 months jail

The sad case of the teenager who killed himself after being urged to do so in text messages has resulted in a 15-month jail sentence for the woman who sent the messages. In June, Michelle Carter, of Massachusetts, US, was found guilty of the involuntary manslaughter of her boyfriend Conrad Roy. Back in 2014, Roy had shared …

  1. redpawn Silver badge

    Jump! Jump! Jump!

    At the point you tell someone to complete a suicide attempt rather than tell them to get help and yourself call the police you are inciting a killing. No better than blocking the doors and yelling fire in a crowded theatre. That being said she was also a minor at the time and provably not at all responsible, yet responsible for his death.

    1. TonyJ Silver badge

      Re: Jump! Jump! Jump!

      "...That being said she was also a minor at the time and provably not at all responsible, yet responsible for his death..."

      Sorry but at 15 years old she was plenty mature enough to understand her actions.

      She wanted the attention and sympathy after the event.

      Cold, calculated and with full intent and understanding.

      Vile creature. He needed help not pushing over the edge like that.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Jump! Jump! Jump!

        "at 15 years old she was plenty mature enough to understand her actions."

        Some people twice that age don't seem to be able to manage it, and I'm sure you could find some kids half her age who would be able to explain why it was wrong.

        Different people grow up at different rates, that's why having a cut-off at a certain age and saying "this person is a child, but if they are one day over their "X"th birthday they are an adult" is a bit of a kludge, but that's why we have jury trials

        1. Halfmad

          Re: Jump! Jump! Jump!

          "Some people twice that age don't seem to be able to manage it"

          Because they have never had to take responsibility for their actions doesn't mean they are incapable of doing so and shouldn't be held to a reasonable standard for young adults/adults.

          1. DropBear Silver badge

            Re: Jump! Jump! Jump!

            "doesn't mean they are incapable of doing so"

            Yeah! And people walking with crutches or sitting in wheelchairs simply haven't been working out hard enough! It's their own damn fault...!

      2. BillG Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: Jump! Jump! Jump!

        She got off too damn light. Anyone who looks at her cold, unfeeling eyes would want her to rot in jail for 15 years.

      3. enormous c word

        Re: Jump! Jump! Jump!

        "...That being said she was also a minor at the time and provably not at all responsible, yet responsible for his death..."

        She knew exactly what she was doing, what she did was systematic - no suggestion of a moment of madness or crime of passion here - the issue is that her moral-compass is so far off she is a danger to anyone vulnerable or impressionable.

    2. Michael Strorm

      Re: Jump! Jump! Jump!

      @redpawn; Indeed. Despite the defence's line, even the US has limits on free speech.

      I notice that while the article claims "that the state of Massachusetts lacks laws that prohibit encouraging suicide", it's not clear whether they're claiming a lack of laws merely *explicitly and specifically* prohibiting that act or a lack of laws that could be applied to it full stop.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Megaphone

        Re: Jump! Jump! Jump!

        limits on free speech have been tested in the Supreme Court many times. Disclosing classified information, for one, is a punishable offense (all those 'leaks' for example). The classic example yelling "fire" in a crowded public space is another offense [typically 'disturbing the peace' or similar charges would be filed]. You can't be openly abusive, harass people, or create a public nuisance. But pretty much everything else, done peaceful-like and in the context of local ordinances, is fair game. I can go to the city park, stand on a soap box, and do political speech (or hate speech, for that matter) all day long. The cops will protect me and people can choose to walk away (or not). If I don't chase them and get in their faces, I'm not "harassing" or "disturbing". So yeah.

        "Involuntary manslaughter" is the charge for when you negligently do something that significantly contributes to someone's death. Accidentally running someone over because you were texting on your phone, or disobeyed traffic laws [that sort of thing]. So there has to be some kind of "avoidable" negligent thing that you did, such as manipulating someone's emotions via text messages.

        But yeah, the high courts will probably decide THIS one, too.

        /me imagines chearleading squads at "jumper" events - "Screw it all, Screw it all, JUMP JUMP JUMP!"

        megaphone icon for me standing on my soap box in this forum, heh

  2. Ketlan

    She should have got 15 years

    Horrible, vile woman. What she did was disgusting. She should have got 15 years, the evil bastard.

    1. Tim Roberts 1

      Re: She should have got 15 years

      Yep, the word "fuckwit" comes to mind ...... she might was well have done the deed.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Kids today, eh?

    Blimey!

  4. Halcin

    Free speech does NOT mean freedom from responsibility to the consequences of your words.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Two free speech aspects

      Aspect 1. The despicable lady behavior. I wholeheartedly agree that freedom of speech does not revoke responsibility for your speech results.

      Aspect 2. Complete and lifetime prohibition on writing an OJSimpsonisation of the case. While I like it and applaud it, it is likely not to stand under USA free speech statutes. The judge should have been less direct and more shrewd. He should have mandated that all proceeds she ever makes from anything related to the case are paid to Samaritans.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Two free speech aspects

        From what I read in the article, she is not prohibited from writing her story, she is prohibited from profiting from her story, so her right to free speech is not affected.

        1. moiety

          Re: Two free speech aspects

          "Judge Moniz also imposed a gag order on Carter, prohibiting her from profiting from her story in any way."

          I fucking love this bit. Proper justice and a stroke of genius.

          1. DougS Silver badge

            Re: Two free speech aspects

            I wonder if that order is valid for her whole life expires after she's released from jail and completed her five year probation? If the latter she may still end up profiting, though not as much since it will be mostly forgotten by the public at that point.

            1. kain preacher Silver badge

              Re: Two free speech aspects

              Son of sam laws prevent that. in The US you can not profit from crime.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Two free speech aspects

            "I fucking love this bit. Proper justice and a stroke of genius."

            100%. Now the little bitch, as well as an all too short visit to the Big House, can hopefully look forward to an unfulfilling, miserable life, unable to cash in on her notoriety. Here's hoping she rots, whether that be in jail or out, and that those she comes into contact with treat her with the utter contempt she richly deserves. For the record, I'm not a 'hang em' or 'throw away the key' kind of guy, anyone can make a mistake or make a bad decision, and they should in those circumstances be treated leniently. But this was a calculated, sustained campaign against this mentally unwell boy, so she could experience a hit of power. Actions have consequences and I hope this manipulative, evil piece of shit suffers for the rest of her days.

        2. Michael Thibault

          Re: Two free speech aspects

          "she is prohibited from profiting from her story"

          Where is "profit" defined viz. this judgment?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I agree

    There does need to be a distinction between this sort of blatant man slaughter by proxy and helping someone who is terminally ill though, at least as far as if no alternatives are available eh palliative care. Seem to recall that the Peaceful Pill Handbook is one if the more popular downloads on the dark Web.

    There was a rash in Japan a while back after someone published how to make ... using household chemicals and a certain product available at many chemists has since been restricted for this reason.

    1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: I agree

      The distinction lies in the motive. Killing out of a desire to end someone's suffering is a completely different kettle of fish to killing to provide some sort of gain for the killer.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    whatever is not forbidden is compulsory ?

    WTF ? "... and that the state of Massachusetts lacks laws that prohibit encouraging suicide ..." reminds me of this ...

    http://nypost.com/2017/07/20/oh-he-just-died-disturbing-video-shows-teens-mocking-drowning-man/

    "oh, the state has no law that anyone /has to/ help anyone else ...

    whatever is not compulsory is forbidden ?

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: whatever is not forbidden is compulsory ?

      "whatever is not compulsory is forbidden ?"

      We have a legal system that normally proscribes certain behaviour, and everything else is fine, but in some circumstances there are laws that compel people to act in certain ways. One is a putative law requiring people to help another in danger of death, which exists in some jurisdictions and not in others. If that law is not on the books then you cannot be prosecuted for not helping, because there is no actual law that you have broken.

      I would have thought we were all on board with the idea that people can only be put in jail for breaking actual laws.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: whatever is not forbidden is compulsory ?

        It must be time to make such a law which would also catch the idiots that encourage terrorists acts. Said law would then require the social media to block this behaviour.

      2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: whatever is not forbidden is compulsory ?

        Not helping someone is one thing. Deliberately acting in a way that makes the situation worse is completely different.

        Watching someone drown without making any attempt to save them is despicable but not illegal. Removing a life-preserver that the drowning person is attempting to reach is most certainly illegal.

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: people can only be put in jail for breaking actual laws, maybe but what about DAMAGE$?

        "I would have thought we were all on board with the idea that people can only be put in jail for breaking actual laws." IANAL but some arguments for suing for damages follow below ... (UK context, IANAL)

        For example, some could argue an infringement of the boy's human rights - viz., the right to life ... in the UK, the

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Rights_Act_1998#Sections_6_to_9

        Although the Act, by its own terms, applies only to public bodies, it has had increasing influence on private law litigation between individual citizens leading some academics (source?) to state that it has horizontal effect (as in disputes between citizens) as well as vertical effect (as in disputes between the state and citizens).

        This presents as a classic 'dispute between citizens' case and the boy's lawyers could, (in the UK anyway - thanks, I must point out to UK government having to implement European Human Rights principles, (so, this may change if UK ever actually Brexits)), argue infringement according to Sections_6_to_9 as quoted above - again, IANAL

    2. IglooDude

      Re: whatever is not forbidden is compulsory ?

      <<<WTF ? "... and that the state of Massachusetts lacks laws that prohibit encouraging suicide ..." reminds me of this ...>>>

      Right now those teens are being prosecuted for the misdemeanor crime (apparently not previously used in Massachusett's history) of "failing to report a death".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: whatever is not forbidden is compulsory ?

        Because no-one ever thought people could be that cruel and uncaring. How wrong they were. Very sad.

  7. D.A.

    Stop saying “committed suicide” please - suicide isn’t a crime...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That depends on the jurisdiction, but you are probably correct in this case.

    2. Hawkeye Pierce

      @DA: "Committed Suicide"

      Indeed, I thought everyone knew not to use that phrase, especially journalists.

      See point 5: https://www.samaritans.org/media-centre/media-guidelines-reporting-suicide/advice-journalists-suicide-reporting-dos-and-donts amongst other places.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @DA: "Committed Suicide"

        Unfortunately they now use the incorrect phrase of " he fell from a bridge"

        So when I see a current news article near me that says "he fell from a notorious bridge" you instantly wonder why the bridge is so unsafe. You then find out the poor individual has climbed the 5ft safety fence on the highest bridge in the region and jumped.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @DA: "Committed Suicide"

          I thought the current term was "Worked for the Clintons"

          1. Michael Thibault

            Re: @DA: "Committed Suicide"

            @Powernumpty wrote: "I thought the current term was 'Worked for the Clintons'".

            Current? Hasn't it been superseded by "started working for the Clintons"?

      2. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: @DA: "Committed Suicide"

        "Indeed, I thought everyone knew not to use that phrase, especially journalists."

        I must admit, I always read it not in terms of crime, but in deciding to do something. Like committing to a course of action.

    3. Grunt #1

      Committed is the correct term and does not imply it is a crime. When we start using euphemisms we lose the horror of someone deciding to take this last action of their lives and demean them in the process.

      1. Baldrickk Silver badge

        committed

        I've committed myself to my hockey team, I aim to play in every game, and play my best.

        I've committed code to my git repo today.

        Yowser!, lock me up for all these things I've committed!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Baldrickk Re: committed

          And yet both those usages of "commit" that you give fit one of the dictionary definitions of commit (to pledge, to bind or to transfer), none of which really fit with the act of killing oneself without a real push.

          The term "commit suicide" most certainly relates back to when suicide was a crime and thus was committed (and/or to religion where suicide is "committing a sin").

          And to the respondent who bemoaned the use of euphemisms, the generally accepted terms of "killed themselves" or "died by suicide" can hardly be termed euphemisms.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Suicide may well be a crime depending on your local laws.

  8. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Surprising..

      Read the full back story next time before posting. She actively encouraged, even caused this over a very long time and sent some very disturbing messages while also bragging to friends about it. It was not idly taunting someone it was actively trying to pursuade someone who almost certainly wouldn't have done it otherwise. It certainly doesn't appear to be because she was bored of "some mental saying that he was going to kill himself everyday".

      We're not pussies, we're educated normal people who bothered to look at the information before making a decision.

    2. Solarflare

      Re: Surprising..

      I might say you have a vague (if shite) point, but considering it wasn't a case of her finally snapping and going "Jesus, I've had enough, you say you're going to kill yourself every week, just get it over with" but more of her actively encouraging him to kill himself and continuing to do so after he showed doubts over it (even going as far as helping him with the method)...

      TLDR - you're an idiot.

    3. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Surprising..

      DON'T FEED THE TROLLS!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Surprising..

        DON'T FEED THE REDNECKS!

        TFTFY

    4. hplasm Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Surprising..

      "...he could of done a 100 different things"

      No. Words have consequences. And grammar.

      "And you wonder why the term cuck is becoming so popular."

      Only between idiots.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Way too short a sentence

    And the defence... she only told him to kill himself, didn't actually do it herself is rubbish.

    If you incite/order a killing with a reasonable expectation that the order will be carried out then you are guilty, no question about it. Anyone without a completely messed up moral compass can see that!

    Otherwise (to take an extreme example) you could say that Hitler was innocent too... after all he only told his generals to kill 6 million Jews, he didn't actually do it personally!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Way too short a sentence

      "If you incite/order a killing with a reasonable expectation that the order will be carried out then you are guilty, no question about it".

      So does that apply to soldiers and their commanders?

      Does it apply to that grinning cunt Tony Blair when he set us on course for a war we will NEVER win but will suffer for the next 50 years?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It might be free speech

    but in this case, it could be considered death threat which is the intimidation on victims to manipulate their behavior or attempt murder with the intent to murder the victim (murdering the boy) with peer pressure.

  11. Threlkeld

    Did you forget to add a message?

    "In the UK and Republic of Ireland, the Samaritans maintain a free-to-call helpline number on 116 123. Hotlines in other countries can be found here." (with a link)

    This message is appended to some Register pieces dealing with suicide, but not to all. Not to this one, as it happens. Personally, I don't think this message can be given too often. There are volunteers waiting 24/7/365 to provide confidential, non-judgemental listening.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Did you forget to add a message?

      Who would want to sit and listen to these people? That takes a particular form of bravery and compassion.

      1. TonyJ Silver badge

        Re: Did you forget to add a message?

        @ Threlkeld

        "In the UK and Republic of Ireland, the Samaritans maintain a free-to-call helpline number on 116 123. Hotlines in other countries can be found here." (with a link)

        It's good for people to understand and to know that someone, somewhere will listen and not judge. They do a tremendous thing for a lot of people.

        @ Anonymous Coward

        "Who would want to sit and listen to these people? That takes a particular form of bravery and compassion."

        My mum. She did it for quite some time, especially over Christmas. And yes, it takes a tremendous amount of mental courage to do it.

      2. Martin Summers Silver badge

        Re: Did you forget to add a message?

        I take a minor exception to your use of "these people" but I'm sure you didn't intend it in any mean way. People with suicidal thoughts could be anyone, even people you think have great and happy lives may be carrying a burden in their private lives that drives them to feelings of ending everything.

        People who are willing to just listen are few and far between, and I mean actually just listen and not butt in with their opinion or question someone's thinking or motives. How often have you solved a problem just by talking through it out loud without needing a response from whomever you are venting to? Sometimes all people need to feel is that someone gives a shit and that they aren't just irrelevant and a nobody. That can make the difference between coping or just giving up. All of us should take the time to just listen to people more and value eachother rather than living our lives in a silo. One day we might need that person to listen ourselves.

        1. DropBear Silver badge

          Re: Did you forget to add a message?

          "Sometimes all people need to feel is that someone gives a shit"

          I must point out that sitting and listening to someone silently, as useful as it can be in some cases, is hardly conducive to any feelings of someone giving a shit. Rather the opposite actually, based on one's own experience with one's internal mental processes while apparently "listening" to somebody else - and you'll be aware of that even when you're the one doing all the talking. If "getting it off your chest" helped, good for you - otherwise you're just getting a first-hand experience of people wanting to appear to care while they're really just flinging comforting but worthless platitudes at you hoping you'll go away and stop making them miserable too. Too cynical for you? Well, at least I'm being honest...

        2. David Nash Silver badge

          Re: Did you forget to add a message?

          "I take a minor exception to your use of "these people" but I'm sure you didn't intend it in any mean way. "

          So why mention it? They are people, and the word "these" qualifies which ones (the ones in question, ie. those who call The Samaritans). So nothing wrong or negative at all.

          1. Martin Summers Silver badge

            Re: Did you forget to add a message?

            "So why mention it?"

            Erm, just in case he did mean it like that?

  12. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    A different perspective...

    Well, I'd like to ask a question - where were the parents of the boy?

    Personally, I put most of the responsibility for what's happened on them. I know how some families work (or rather don't work) and it seems to be one of them. It's all nice to shed tears now and say how the boy was their "best friend" but they could not see what was going on in front of their eyes...

    At the same time all the weight of their son's troubles fell on the shoulders of a 14-15 yo girl. People don't realise how hard it is when your loved one is severely depressed and suicidal. Difficult even for an adult to bear, let alone a teenager. She shouldn't have been put in that position in the first place.

    I can easily imagine her endurance and resilience snapping and her just wanting it all to end and that was the only way she could think of how to stop their suffering - both his and hers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A different perspective...

      Just asking.

      If in his depression he had also killed her, would that have been better?

  13. PhilipN Silver badge

    15 months?

    Good God!

    And the guy sent down for sexting underage girls got 20 years???

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/05/18/secret_service_guard_texts_white_house/

    J.... H. C.....!!!

    1. PhilipN Silver badge

      Re: 15 months?

      Missed the edit time-out.

      Last two words of the link should be white_house/

    2. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: 15 months?

      What you're missing is punishment not being meant to be proportional with the gravity of the crime these days (as perceived by your Average Joe with some common sense) but with it's mass-appeal and potential to be easily and repeatedly perpetrated. The odd murder? Hardly anyone's going to imitate that, you get a few years or so and that's that. Sexting? Letting people concern themselves with sex openly has the potential to destroy Traditional Values and unravel the Very Fabric of Society Itself if everyone starts doing it! Twenty years for you! Watching a few torrented movies? Oh, now it's personal! You're stealing actual _money_ from the only class of citizens that modern justice cares about - rich people! Fifty consecutive life sentences without parole and a trillion billion million dollars in damages you filthy, filthy scum!

  14. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    I'm sure she'll make lots of new friends in prison. *

    Let's hope she doesn't encourage them to commit suicide as well.

    *I know, you were expecting me to encourage her to be raped in prison, but realllllly, that's such a cliche.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm sure she'll make lots of new friends in prison. *

      Have you ever seen Orange is the new Black? It's enough to make you slit your wrists.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ugh...

    My (constitutionally protected, free speech etc) opinion is that every person has sovereignty over their own body and mind, and has the right to destroy themselves if they so choose.

    So if someone told me they were going to commit suicide, my response would be 'If you've thought about it enough and feel you don't actually have anything worth living for, go for it'. Lock me up.

    The knee jerk response that suicide is always an abomination that must be prevented at all costs, to the point of deciding that people who advocate it are always 'mentally ill' and deserving of having their liberty restricted to prevent them from killing themselves, is abhorrent to me. It's intrusion by the state of the worst kind, akin to torture.

    Nobody has the right to keep me alive against my will.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ugh...

      I took the first aid course / exam at work recently.

      I found this unbelievable but true.

      If you are involved in a serious accident with potentially life ending injuries that unless treated immediately would almost guarantee your life would be over, lets say you've sliced a major artery on a car windscreen, you're conscience but bleeding out rapidly. I **must** ask if I am ok to treat you.

      If you say yes, fair enough. If however, you say "No" then I must sit by and watch you slowly expiring UNTIL you lose consciousness, THEN I can treat you (probably already too late).

      And I was amazed at this, to have to seek someone's permission to try to save their life and by them saying "no" means I can be SUED for helping.

      It highlights how utterly fucked we are due to the pervasive nonsense that "political correctness" is.

      This is why people wont intervene because they are terrified of the ramifications by trying to be a decent human being, and that, folks, is why the majority of us are total twats.

  16. Herby Silver badge

    Then I remember...

    The words to a theme song for a very popular TV show in the 70's. Something about doctors and war....

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    sickening

    Given that the US has been exporting films and TV popularising calls for people to commit suicide for years then this all seems somewhat hypocritical.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019