Trigger Warning: Suicide. Can texts really push someone to kill themselves? That’s what prosecutors are trying to prove during Michelle Carter’s trial — whether or not disturbing texts she sent boyfriend Conrad Roy, when she was 17 and he was 18, persuaded him to commit suicide in 2014.
Michelle Carter, then 17, was on the phone with boyfriend Conrad Roy, then 18, as he committed suicide in 2014. Michelle texted her boyfriend constantly as he sat in his car suffocating on carbon monoxide, seemingly encouraging him the entire time. Michelle, now 20, is on trial as the court determines whether or not she should be charged with manslaughter for sending Conrad the disturbing texts like, “You just need to do it Conrad,” which prosecutors argued made him go through with his suicide. He had indicated he was reluctant about killing himself earlier in the day. If found guilty of manslaughter, Michelle faces up to 20 years in prison.
The question is: can someone really be found guilty of causing someone’s death because of their texts? Assisted suicide through coercion isn’t a crime in Massachusetts, where Conrad died and where the trial takes place, and some law experts don’t think the case will hold weight in court. “Usually, manslaughter charges involve direct action by the defendant … some type of horrific unintentional killing where the behavior disregarded a risk, like firing a gun into a crowd,” Daniel Medwed, a law and criminal justice professor at Northeastern University, told The Washington Post. “This is different.”
The texts Michelle sent her late boyfriend were incredibly disturbing — read some of them:
“You’re ready and prepared. All you have to do is turn the generator on and you [will] be free and happy. No more pushing it off, no more waiting.”
“It’s okay to be scared and it’s normal. I mean, you’re about to die.”
“You just need to do it Conrad. The more you push it off, the more it will eat at you.”
“If you want it as bad as you say you do, its [sic] time to do it today.”
“You just have to do it, Conrad. It’s painless and quick.”
” Thought you wanted to do this. This time is right and you’re ready.”
Prosecutors are alleging that Michelle was lonely, and wanted attention by “playing the grieving girlfriend.” He had texted her that he was thinking about not going through with his suicide (see those texts in our gallery above). But the defense is arguing that Conrad already had suicidal tendencies, and that Michelle had previously tried to make him get help. Michelle herself suffers from depression, and encouraged him to check into a mental health facility where she was staying. Her lawyer stated that Michelle couldn’t have killed Conrad, as she was “involuntarily intoxicated” and “unable to form intent” due to switching antidepressants three months earlier.
In texts to friends after Conrad’s suicide she said she felt guilty about their conversations and confessed that she could have done something: “I could have stopped it. I was on the phone with him and he got out of the car because it was working and he got scared and I [expletive] told him to get back in,” she texted. “I hear moaning like someone was in pain and he wouldn’t answer when I said his name. I stayed on the phone for like 20! mins and that’s all I heard…Can we do something tonight to get my mind off it.”
This trial is still ongoing, and no charges have been filed against Michelle yet.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK or text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
HollywoodLifers, our thoughts are with Conrad’s family and friends during this difficult time.