ENCOURAGING SUICIDE (H 4186)

This bill (H 4186) Criminalizes suicide coercion in Massachusetts by imposing up to a 5-year prison sentence on any person who knows of another person’s propensity for suicidal ideation and exercises substantial control over the other person through control of the other person’s physical location or circumstances; deceptively or fraudulently manipulates the other person’s fears, affections or sympathies; or has undue influence whereby the will of one person is substituted for the wishes of another.

The bill, called “Conrad’s Law,” is named after then- 18-year-old Conrad Roy III who, in 2014, killed himself after being pressured by then- 17-year-old Michelle Carter via a phone call following thousands of texts. Carter was convicted of manslaughter and served 12 months of a 15-month prison sentence. Other actions that will result in a prison sentence include intentionally coercing or encouraging the person to commit or attempt to commit suicide; intentionally providing the physical means, or knowledge of such means, to the other person for the purpose of enabling that other person to commit or attempt to commit suicide and, as a result, the other person commits or attempts to commit suicide; participating in a physical act which causes, aids, encourages or assists the other person in committing or attempting to commit suicide.

“When a loved one is in a mental health crisis, we expect that those close to them will do their best to connect them with the resources they need,” said the bill’s sponsor Rep. Natalie Higgins (D-Leominster). “Recently, we have a number of unspeakable tragedies that exposed a clear gap in our laws. With this new legislation, we hope Massachusetts will join the 40 other states that recognize the crime of suicide by coercion.”

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