Throughout the United States, suicide is a serious yet under-discussed problem. Each year, more than 40,000 Americans succeed in taking their own lives, with countless more making one or more attempts. Suicide is now the second-leading cause of death for individuals between 15 and 34—only accidents claim more lives. For friends and family members of a suicide victim, the situation can be traumatic and life-changing, as they may feel like they have failed their loved one. Recently, however, a Massachusetts court ruled that a young woman who encouraged her boyfriend to kill himself must now serve at least 15 months in prison for involuntary manslaughter.
A Tragic Set of Facts
Three years ago, an 18-year-old man Massachusetts man committed suicide by filling his pickup truck cab with carbon monoxide in a store parking lot. As officials investigated the death, they found that the man’s girlfriend—a 17-year-old young woman—had been sending him messages via text and social media encouraging him to go through with his suicide plan. According to reports and court documents, the teen even allegedly told the young man to “get back in” when he got scared and got out of his carbon monoxide-filled truck.
Based on her age, the teen was charged with involuntary manslaughter in Bristol Juvenile Court for her role in the man’s death. The case went to trial in June of this year and quickly became a sad showcase of teenage depression. Prosecutors presented dozens of messages from the defendant to the deceased along with the allegation that she hoped to gain attention as the grieving girlfriend due to his death. Her attorneys argued that she was also suffering from depression and that her actions may have been affected by medication she was taking at the time.
The now-20-year-old was found guilty of manslaughter in June, and last month, the court handed down a sentence of 30 months in prison and five years of probation. The presiding judge determined that the woman must serve at least 15 months, and the other half could be enforced if she gets into trouble during her probation.
What Does Connecticut Law Say?
While tragic incident and subsequent criminal proceedings took place in Massachusetts, encouraging someone to commit suicide is against the law in Connecticut as well. A person who “intentionally causes or aids another person, other than by force, duress, or deception to commit suicide”’ is guilty of manslaughter in the second degree, a class C felony. A class C felony carries up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
If you have recently lost a loved one to suicide and you believe that you are being investigated in connection with his or her death, you need legal help immediately. Contact an experienced Connecticut criminal defense attorney right away. We will work to protect your rights, no matter what type of charges you may be facing. Call [[phone1]] for a free consultation at Woolf Law Firm, LLC today.