Almost three years after a tragic suicide in Massachusetts, the victim’s former girlfriend may face time behind bars for encouraging him to plan his death. According to BuzzFeed News, Michelle Carter texted 18-year-old Conrad Roy to "just do it" in the summer of 2014—“it” meaning kill himself by inhaling carbon monoxide produced by a water pump in his truck. In 2016, US News and World Report reported that Carter had run a “systematic campaign of coercion” against Roy, leading the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts to unanimously rule that there was probable cause for a jury to indict Carter in Roy’s death.
This week, Carter will finally go on trial.BuzzFeed News reports that Carter, 20, faces involuntary manslaughter charges for goading Roy’s suicide through text messages and a phone call.
The events leading to Roy’s death leave little room for doubt about Carter’s involvement. In the days leading up to Roy’s suicide, Carter repeatedly texted Roy about his plans. “You just keeps pushing it off to another night and say you’ll do it but you never do,” she wrote. On the morning of his death on July 12, 2014, Carter told Roy that his parents could “expect” his suicide. And, when Roy said he was scared to leave his family and exited the running car during his final moments, Carter allegedly told him to “get back in,” according to South Coast Today.
As if her complicity in Roy's death wasn’t troubling enough, Carter’s later turn to social media in the aftermath is even worse. She tweeted about how much she missed Roy on multiple occasions, including on his birthday and on the four-month anniversary of his death. While her Twitter account has since been removed, some screenshots are still available of her tweets. South Coast Today has suggested that her assistance in Roy’s suicide, and her following social media posts, were a part of an elaborate plan to gain sympathy from other students.
Despite thorough records of her communications with Roy, Carter’s attorneys still claim that she shouldn’t face charges. Their reason? Massachusetts law doesn’t criminalize defendants who use language that instructs or encourages someone else to commit suicide. It is one of 11 states in the country without such laws. Without a specific law addressing Carter’s actions, her lawyers claim that charging her with involuntary manslaughter is a “dubious effort.”
It’s still up to the jury to decide whether Carter was guilty in Roy’s death. From the evidence available, Carter’s actions weren’t the right choice after learning that Roy had suicidal thoughts. If a friend or loved one is considering suicide, encouraging them to go through with it isnot the answer.