Text message leads to manslaughter conviction in suicide case - WNEM TV 5

Text message leads to manslaughter conviction in suicide case

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In a case that hinged largely on a teenage couple's text messages, Michelle Carter was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

The conviction stems from the 2014 suicide of her boyfriend.

Conrad Roy poisoned himself by inhaling carbon monoxide in his pickup truck in Massachusetts.

Carter was found guilty for sending dozens of text messages to  Roy urging him to kill himself.

It's a case that could set new legal precedent for whether it's a crime to tell someone to commit suicide.

"Just the fact that one young person died by suicide is just, it's devastating," said Barb Smith, executive director of Survivors of Suicide in Saginaw.

She said this is the first time she has ever heard of a case like this.

"I've heard of people who have blamed people, but I've never heard of someone who was actually prosecuted. So I'm not saying it hasn't happened, but this is the first time I've heard about it," Smith said.

While she said she can't form an opinion on whether Carter should have faced criminal charges because she doesn't know all the details of the case, she does think Carter's behavior was at the very least antagonistic and not at all helpful.

"Bullying and antagonistic behavior is not the cause of a suicide. They can be a factor because when someone is already vulnerable to suicide it's not acceptable to treat people that way," Smith said.

She said although the phone was used in a negative way in this case, there are ways you can use your phone to help save a life.

"Now there is a helpline. It's a national helpline. If you have a chance to help someone who's having thoughts or you yourself are having thoughts, they can call 1-800-723-TALK.

While this case is very unusual, Smith said she thinks it opens the door for others to face criminal charges in similar situations.

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