We all agree that we have a right to free speech. We all agree that there are exceptions to this, like when a person tells another person to kill someone else. There is now a controversy over whether or not people have a right to encourage other people to kill themselves.
If you′ve spent any amount of time on the Internet, odds are that you have been told to kill yourself. If you are alive to read this, you know to ignore the advice of trolls. And yet twice as many Americans die from suicide than murder. These tragedies often go unreported, partly because local newspapers try to respect the privacy of grieving families, and partly because it happens so much it′s hardly considered news.
In most cases, encouraging a person to kill themselves shouldn′t be treated as a crime. When people tell me to kill myself, I don′t let it bother me. ″Kill yourself″ is more intended as an insult than as a suggested course of action.
But in instances where a person is known to be in a suicide crisis, where they are seriously contemplating taking their own lives, then the law can and should protect that person from anyone who tries to encourage suicide. A suicidal person is suffering from mental illness and is operating at a diminished capacity. Mentally ill people receive a number of legal protection that the rest of us don′t need: they can be assigned legal guardians, they can be prevented from entering into contracts, etc.
People who survive suicide attempts are often grateful to their rescuers. Those that aren′t grateful just try again until they finish themselves off.
In Michelle Carter′s case, she knew that her boyfriend was attempting suicide. The right thing to do would have been to notify the police. Ignoring her boyfriend would have also been a legal option. Instead, she encouraged her boyfriend to remain in his truck′s cab as it filled up with carbon monoxide fumes. Because he was suffering from mental illness, she bore the most responsibility for his death.
When an adult encourages an child to engage in an immoral act, the adult bears legal responsibility for the action that the child physically carried out. It shtould therefore follow that when a sane person encourages an insane person to commit a crime, the sane person bears all of the legal responsibility for the crime.
Each state should have law that outlaw encouraging suicide when all of the following conditions are met: 1)the perpetrator knows or has good reason to believe that the victim is suicidal 2) the perpetrator contacts the victim via a means intended for private, personal communication, such as telephone, text, direct message, or being in the same room 3) the victim is not known to be paralyzed or suffering from a terminal illness.
There is a moral difference between an angry comment left in a public forum and an effort to make a depressed person end their own life. State legislatures and the courts should acknowledge this difference. Encouraging an individual to commit suicide should not be allowed or tolerated.