The Conrad Roy (Michelle Carter) Case

If you haven't already read about it, here is a quick run down. Michelle Carter, now 20 years old, has been convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to 15 months in prison for encouraging her boyfriend to kill himself. At age 17, she sent her then alleged "boyfriend", Conrad Roy III,  multiple texts and shared multiple phone calls encouraging him to kill himself by filling his truck with deadly carbon monoxide fumes. She even stayed on the phone with him whilst he did it, hearing him take his last breaths. 

Examples of the texts she sent included "You can't think about it. You just have to do it? You said you were gonna do it like I don't get why you aren't" and  "You're ready and prepared. All you have to do is turn the generator on and you bee free and happy. No more pushing it off, no more waiting". She even gave him tips as to where and how he should do it. 

Following her sentencing, Amanda Knox came out in the press stated that she believed Carter had been wrongfully convicted and that she hasn't committed a crime. (For those of you that don't remember, Amanda Knox was infamously accused, found guilty and acquitted multiple times of the murder of Meredith Kercher in Italy in 2007). 

Whilst I agree with Amanda's sentiments that Michelle Carter needs help, I disagree that she has been wrongfully convicted and shouldn't be serving time in prison. 

Without any empathy or understanding she spent WEEKS encouraging her "boyfriend" to take his own life. She even gave him pointers. Granted, she was 17, her cognitive process were not fully developed, and no doubt she didn't fully grasp the ripple effect her actions would have. But these were not a once off, spur of the moment comments. These were repeated and persistent. Even when Conrad told her he was hesitant, she pushed. No, she didn't take his life. But yes, she damn well did her best to make sure his life would be ended. She even used his death to gain attention and sympathy from her peers. Conrad's sister described her as acting as "a grieving widow" at his wake. 

There are bigger issues than just this one case. If we look back over the past decade of the numbers of cases of cyber-bullying and trolling where individuals, particularly adolescents and young adults, tell others to go and kill themselves is absolutely staggering. Young people MUST learn that words and not just words, particularly to vulnerable and/or psychologically unstable others. They need to know that there are real consequences for telling or encouraging other people to kill themselves. People need to be accountable for how they treat others, and that things said behind a keyboard or mobile phone do not make you exempt from consequence. It is 2017- you no longer have to be physically present to influence people's behaviour. 

Perhaps controversially, I believe people have the right to end their own life. Psychological suffering is awful and debilitating and I understand that there are points that can be reached when some people can no longer fight against the illness in which they suffer. However, I also believe that everything that can be humanly done to help them, should be done, to try and prevent this from occurring. Social support, mental health professionals, Doctors, whatever it takes to try and help someone over come their demons. And Michelle Carter did not reach out to Dr's, or his parents, or anyone else to try and get him help. She didn't tell him not to kill himself. She pushed him to do it, telling him it was the only way. 

Her defence lawyers argue Conrad would be dead regardless of Carter's actions, if he himself was already primed to this state of mind. I don't see how this is a defence? I agree with you- but that doesn't mean she is less culpable, it highlights how much she took advantage of his vulnerability. 

Michelle Carter should consider herself lucky that she only have to spend a little over a year of her life behind bars. She will still be in her 20's when she is released (she remains free during the appeals process) with the rest of her life to live. Conrad Roy does not have that luxury. Had she acted by trying to get him psychological help, or reaching out to adults that could, there is a chance she could have saved his life instead of assisting him in ending it.

For more information on the case, go to the "48 hours" podcast: Text to death. 

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