By now you've probably heard of the case. The story of the death of Conrad Roy, an 18-year-old who committed suicide at the prompting of his then-girlfriend, Michelle Carter. The case made headlines due to it's confusing nature, Roy committed suicide on his own, however text messages from Carter encouraged him to do so. This resulted in charges of Involuntary Manslaughter for Carter in what many deemed the "texting suicide case".
The Death of Conrad Roy
Conrad Roy met Michelle Carter in Florida in 2012. They were both 16 years old and established a long-distance relationship via texting and e-mailing. Both Carter and Roy had a history of mental health issues. Carter had been known to have an eating disorder and to have engaged in self-injurious behaviors. They both were troubled, and maintained a close relationship via text. They didn't live that far away from each other, however their relationship was almost completely online.
Since his death, authorities poured over their correspondence and found that they talked extensively about their lives and feelings. They talked about their mental states and suicide, as well as other everyday things. Michelle Carter had sent supportive messages to Roy while he was suicidal, and once even encouraged him to seek help. However in the lead up to his death, her tone changed and she had sent him messages urging him to do it. She was sending him information on how to do it, and was persistently encouraging him to end his life. This included urging him to get back in the vehicle when he had second thoughts while he was attempting suicide via carbon monoxide poisoning. This attempt ultimately ended his life.
Charges and Trial For Michelle Carter
Carter was charged with involuntary manslaughter in Roy's death. This was a first, as her role in his death was mainly via technological communications. She had texted another friend with her role in his death, confessing to telling him to get back in the vehicle and finish the act. She also had texted this friend confessing that if police found his texts that she would be in trouble.
During her trial, her friends from school described her as lonely and needy. A psychiatrist at her trial believed that a medication change she had prior to these incidents may have caused her to have hypomanic episode, and claimed that she was "involuntarily intoxicated" by these meds. A review of her history showed that she was a troubled teen, despite her cheery demeanor.
Ultimately, she found guilty and sentenced to 2.5 years for manslaughter. It was believed that her responsibility in his death occurred when she instructed him to return to the vehicle when he was having doubts. The case was largely collected from texts and emails between the teen and the victim, as well as between her and her friends. Authorities looked extensively at phone records, and the history of communications between the teens.
Where Is She Now?
Michelle Carter is currently serving her time in prison at the Bristol County House of Correction adult facility. The case garnered a lot of media attention due to the fact that it was a new scenario when it came to criminal responsibility. Additionally, the case was a compelling example of what can happen when people who are mentally unwell can entangle in an unhealthy relationship. The case caused a lot of controversy, with some people seeing Carter as being very responsible for Roy's death, and others thinking that she should have been protected by freedom of speech, considering she did not physically commit murder. Her mental health as well was a consideration, as she was a young and very troubled woman.
This case has since been featured in the media, due it's bizarre and compelling story. This includes a movie by Lifetime called Conrad & Michelle: If Words Could Kill, an episode of Dateline called Reckless, and most recently, a documentary by HBO called I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth vs. Michelle Carter.
It's a chilling tale, and one that's enough to make your head spin. All around, it shows the role that mental health can play in dire circumstances. If only both parties were able to get the help they needed prior to this tragedy, perhaps there would have been a better outcome.