In July of last year, Conrad Roy, an 18 year old from Massachusetts, was found dead in his car. He had committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning. While he physically acted alone in carrying out his suicide, his friend, Michelle Carter, 17 at the time, is being charged with involuntary manslaughter for her role in which, prosecutors say, she encouraged him, repeatedly, to go through with the act.
“Prosecutors allege Carter urged Roy to kill himself and told him by phone to ‘get back in’ his truck after he stepped out as carbon monoxide began to overtake him, court papers show,” the Boston Globe reported.
In the text messages, Carter told Roy she loved him “to the moon and back” and that his family would recover from his suicide.
The day he killed himself, Roy texted Carter that he worried about leaving his family, court papers show.
“I do want to but I’m like freaking for my family I guess,” he wrote.
“Conrad, I told you I’ll take care of them,” Carter responded. “Everyone will take care of them to make sure they won’t be alone and people will help them get through it.”
Days earlier, Carter asked Roy why he had not killed himself yet, prosecutors said.
“When are you going to do it,” she asked. “Stop ignoring the question.”
After Roy’s suicide, Carter sent text messages to Roy’s family members in which she implied she had no knowledge of the other teen’s plans, prosecutors said.
“You always say you’re gonna do it, but you never do. I just want to make sure tonight is the real thing,” she texted.
Prosecutors say Carter was hoping to benefit from the attention she would receive after Roy’s death. She instructed Roy to delete the messages from his phone before his death.
The following is a small sampling of the texts she is alleged to have sent to Roy pushing him toward suicide.
CARTER: 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.
CONRAD: I don’t get it either. I don’t know.
CARTER: So I guess you aren’t gonna do it then. All that for nothing. I’m just confused. Like you were so ready and determined.
CONRAD: I am gonna eventually. I really don’t know what I’m waiting for but I have everything lined up.
CARTER: No, you’re not, Conrad. Last night was it. You kept pushing it off and you say you’ll do it, but you never do. It’s always gonna be that way if you don’t take action. You’re just making it harder on yourself by pushing it off. You just have to do it. Do you want to do it now?
CONRAD: Is it too late? I don’t know. It’s already light outside. I’m gonna go back too sleep. Love you. I’ll text you tomorrow.
CARTER: No. It’s probably the best time now because everyone is sleeping. Just go somewhere in your truck and no one is really out there right now because it’s an awkward time. If you don’t do it now you’re never gonna do it, and you can say you’ll do it tomorrow, but you probably won’t. Tonight? Love you.
CONRAD: Thank you.
CARTER: For what. Are you awake?
CARTER: Are you gonna do it today?
CARTER: Like in the day time?
CONRAD: Should I?
CARTER: Yeah, it’s less suspicious. You won’t think about it as much and you’ll get it over with instead of wait until the night.
CONRAD: Yeah then I will. Like where? Like I could go in any enclosed area.
CARTER: Go in your truck and drive in a parking lot somewhere, to a park or something. Do it like early. Do it now, like early.
CONRAD: Didn’t we say this was suspicious?
CARTER: No. I think night is more suspicious, a kid sitting in his car turning on the radio. Just do it. It wouldn’t be suspicious and it won’t take long.
CONRAD: Okay. I’m taking Holly for a walk.
CONRAD: I don’t know why I’m like this.
CARTER: Sometimes things happen and we never have the answers why.
CONRAD: Like, why am I so hesitant lately. Like two weeks ago I was willing to try everything and now I’m worse, really bad, and I’m LOL not following through. It’s eating me inside.
CARTER: You’re so hesitant because you keeping over thinking it and keep pushing it off. You just need to do it, Conrad. The more you push it off, the more it will eat at you. You’re ready and prepared. All you have to do is tum the generator on and you will be free and happy. No more pushing it off. No more waiting.
CONRAD: You’re right.
CARTER: If you want it as bad as you say you do it’s time to do it today.
As Vice points out, there’s a slippery slope in terms of free speech implications here. “Civil liberties experts are worried about the implications this case may have on freedom of speech, and if saying ‘go kill yourself’ could one day equate to manslaughter. In a state where suicide is not illegal, can you murder someone without ever laying a finger on them? Prosecutors in this case say you can.”
While there’s certainly nothing criminal about telling someone to go kill themselves, nor should there be, and the right to die for terminally ill and elderly people is something that should be protected, this case here represents something different. Carter may not have pushed him off the metaphoric building here, but she certainly talked him up onto the ledge and reminded him how much fun it would be to take a step off.