BOSTON (WHDH) - The mother of a youth who killed himself after his girlfriend urged him to is pushing for a new law that would criminally punish those who pressure others to commit suicide, saying she doesn’t want other families to go through what she did.
Lynn Roy was teary-eyed as she testified on Beacon Hill Tuesday, calling for state lawmakers to pass “Conrad’s Law.”
“This is the only way that I can honor him, is being there for others, making a difference in other people’s lives,” Roy said.
Five years ago, her son Conrad took his own life after his girlfriend, Michelle Carter, used text messages to push him to kill himself. Carter was found guilty of manslaughter.
Daniel Medwed, who helped draft Conrad’s Law, said the charge of manslaughter was not a specific enough charge in Carter’s case. Massachusetts is one of only eight states across the country that does not have a law targeting this kind of pressure.
“I felt that manslaughter was an ill-fitting suit dropped over this case, that it was a hammer when a scalpel would be more appropriate,” Medwed said at the hearing. “The First Amendment isn’t an all-encompassing blanket, it’s a patchwork quilt. If you weaponize words intentionally in order to commit suicide, then perhaps that should be a criminal act.”
Another person has recently been accused of urging suicide by text. Last month, officials said Inyoung You pressured Boston College student Alexander Urtuala to jump off a parking garage to his death. You allegedly sent Urtuala 47,000 text messages, many urging him to “go die.”
State Sen. Barry Finegold said Conrad’s Law would specifically target people who pressure people they know are suicide risks.
“If I say to you go jump off a bridge and I don’t know you have suicidal tendencies, I would not be brought up on charges. But if I know you’re having suicidal thoughts and I say to you you should kill yourself, then you will be prosecuted,” Finegold said.
If the law passes, anyone found guilty could face up to five years in prison.
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