Senator Finegold Announces "Conrad's Law" Suicide Prevention Bill
“Conrad’s Law” is named after Conrad Henri Roy III, who died in July 2014 at age 18 from suicide at the direction of a fellow teenager, Michelle Carter.
Boston, MA – On Wednesday, July 24th, the
family of Conrad Roy, who died by suicide in 2014 after being coerced by his
girlfriend Michelle Carter, will join Senator Barry Finegold (D –Andover) and
Representative Natalie Higgins (D – Leominster) to announce the filing of
“Conrad’s Law,” a bill that would criminalize suicide coercion in
Law” is named after Conrad Henri Roy III, who died in July 2014 at age 18 from
suicide at the direction of a fellow teenager, Michelle Carter. Following the
high-profile court case, many called on the Massachusetts legislature to craft
a narrowly tailored statute that would punish people for inducing suicide.
Massachusetts is one of just ten states across the country that do not have
such a law. The Commonwealth’s inadequate laws on this issue have been further
highlighted by the suicide of Anna Aslanian, a 16-year-old Lowell High student
who killed herself after years of being bullied.
Senator Finegold, who has championed mental health and suicide prevention issues this legislative session, is the Senate sponsor of the bill. “Teen suicide has been on the rise for two decades and is now the second-leading cause of death among high schoolers and young adults. This case taught us that Massachusetts is not equipped to deal with scenarios like this, and this bill would fix that.”
The bill was also filed in the Massachusetts House by Representative Natalie Higgins of Leominster, a former teen violence prevention counselor. “Conrad’s death was an unspeakable tragedy, and exposed a clear gap in our laws,” she said. “With this new legislation, we hope Massachusetts will join the 40 other states that recognize the crime of suicide by coercion.”
Conrad’s mother, Lynn Roy, was involved with the creation of the bill and hopes that it will prevent future tragedies. “‘Conrad’s Law’ has nothing to do with seeking justice for my son. This law has everything to do with preventing this from happening again to others who are struggling with mental illness and suicidal ideation,” she said. “If this law is successful in saving one life, then all of this work will be clearly worth it.”
Senator Finegold and Representative Higgins also worked with Professor Daniel Medwed at Northeastern University School of Law to draft the bill. “My concern from the outset of the Michelle Carter prosecution was that manslaughter is an ill-fitting suit draped over these types of cases in Massachusetts, and that a targeted, limited statute covering coerced suicide like the one we have drafted is more suitable,” said Medwed.
“It is unacceptable that Massachusetts law remain ill-equipped to deal with these cases,” said Senator Mark Montigny, lead cosponsor of the bill. “We must do better to protect these vulnerable, young lives especially when teen bullying and suicide rates continue to increase. If this legislation can prevent even just one tragedy and the pain and suffering that comes with it, then it is more than worth our best effort.”
Details of the bill will be announced at the press conference.