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Social and Behavioral Sciences

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University at Buffalo School of Law

Suicide

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The Puzzle Of Inciting Suicide, Guyora Binder, Luis E. Chiesa Jan 2019

The Puzzle Of Inciting Suicide, Guyora Binder, Luis E. Chiesa

Journal Articles

In 2017, a Massachusetts court convicted Michelle Carter of manslaughter for encouraging the suicide of Conrad Roy by text message, but imposed a sentence of only 15 months. The conviction was unprecedented in imposing homicide liability for verbal encouragement of apparently voluntary suicide. Yet if Carter killed, her purpose that Roy die arguably merited liability for murder and a much longer sentence. This Article argues that our ambivalence about whether and how much to punish Carter reflects suicide’s dual character as both a harm to be prevented and a choice to be respected. As such, the Carter case requires us …