The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts heard a case yesterday involving one teen encouraging another teen to go ahead and commit suicide, which he eventually did. She is arguing that she shouldn’t be prosecuted for this criminally, and I agree.
Whatever one may think of the morality of one teen urging another to commit suicide, with respect to the legality of it, this should not be a crime. To prosecute someone for this behavior is, in my opinion, in the area of “political correctness” that so many people are objecting to these days. Consider:
- She was just 17 herself when she encouraged him to commit suicide. At that age you’re not an adult yet. You don’t have the judgment of an adult.
- She was apparently depressed herself, and was likely searching for someone who would commit suicide with her. As it happened, he went through with it and she did not.
- She will have it on her conscience for the rest of her life that she encouraged her friend to commit suicide. That is likely punishment enough.
- There are also First Amendment issues involved here, and questions of causality (i.e., how much of an influence did her encouragement actually have).
One can argue the morality of these things, about how reprehensible it is that she did this. But I don’t think a seventeen year old should be criminally prosecuted for such a thing.
First Amendment and causality are such good points. (I mean, they all are, but those especially strike me as having implications for setting precedent). If she’s responsible for his actions, that kind of legal boundarylessness is slippery.
Is suicide itself a crime anywhere?