This is unprecedented. Massachusetts has no laws against encouraging someone else to commit suicide, but in that state today, a young woman named Michelle Carter was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for sending her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, a series of text messages that were deemed to have prompted him to kill himself by carbon monoxide poisoning. Roy was depressed, had tried to kill himself on numerous occasions, and had conducted hundreds of searches for ways to die. Carter, who was 17 at the time of the incident, faces up to 20 years in prison, the New York Times reports.
The trial focused on the volumes of text messages exchanged between the couple, who were both troubled and emotionally unstable. The judge appears to be signaling to other lawmakers that people need to be responsible for their online conduct and that bullying that leads to suicide might now be criminal.