Teen Accused of Urging Boyfriend to Commit Suicide in "Sick Game"

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Death-by-text sounds like the plot of a mediocre police procedural episode, but there's a real criminal trial on the subject right now.

Both the victim and the defendant were teens when this took place ... this is pretty rough.

Michelle Carter

Michelle Carter stands accused of sending Conrad Roy III, who was her boyfriend at the time and who had just recently graduated from high school, a series of text messages in which she encouraged him to follow suicidal impulses and end his life.

The criminal charge is involuntary manslaughter, which might sound pretty steep for a series of verbal messages sent by a teenage girl.

But Conrad's death was very real.

And anyone feeling sorry for her might change their minds by the end of this post.

She's being tried in juvenile court, even though she is now 20.

Conrad Roy III

Michelle has waived her rights to a jury trial, and honestly, we're no legal experts, but that sounds like the best decision that she's made in a very long time.

Juries are made up of everyday strangers who are usually no more qualified to render a verdict than, say, a reality star is to become President of the United States.

Sometimes, they're still your best bet, especially if the judges where you live are elected officials or if you want to appeal to a jury's sympathies.

But in this case ... it sounds like Michelle's best bet is the letter of the law protecting her.

Some of the texts in which Michelle allegedly encourages Conrad to commit suicide are especially damning.

Here's one:

"You’re so hesitant because you keeping over thinking it and keep pushing it off. You just need to do it, Conrad. The more you push it off, the more it will eat at you."

As horrible as that is, that particular message doesn't end there.

"You’re ready and prepared. All you have to do is turn the generator on and you will be free and happy. No more pushing it off. No more waiting."

Like ... it's so hard to read that.

It's even harder to imagine someone sending that to a loved one.


The conversation in which it appears that Michelle is actively pushing the already suicidal Conrad to act on his self-destructive impulses and end his life took place across multiple days.

And you can bet that the prosecutor is not going to let the judge or anyone else forget any provable detail of the case.

In their opening statements on Tuesday, prosecutors argued that Michelle craved attention from her peers, and that appearing to be grief-stricken after her boyfriend's tragic suicide would satisfy that need.

"The defendant needed something to get their attention. She used Conrad as a pawn in her sick game of life and death."

We don't know if we'd characterize it as a game, but we're certainly sickened.

Lady Justice

There are a number of issues at play in this case.

First of all, Michelle did not magically make Conrad suicidal.

The best analogy for messages or imagery that seem to encourage suicide -- remember when 13 Reasons Why was accused of glorifying suicide and being dangerous for teens? -- is an allergy.

It's the same thing as with triggers and PTSD, actually.

Basically, certain people, for mental health reasons, are specifically "allergic" to certain things.

So we could see someone arguing that a person egging on a someone who's suicidal is killing them just as surely as someone who slips peanut oil into the food of someone with a deadly allergy.

They're not the same, but either the allergy sufferer or the suicidal teenager decided to be that way or can somehow choose to stop being vulnerable.

The lack of any physical presence by Michelle during these conversations could make her look less culpable.

After trans teenager Leelah Alcorn's tragic death, many people wanted her parents brought up on charges.

They argued passionately that her parents had created a miserable environment for her that caused her death.

If Michelle Carter is guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter for sending text messages, then one might argue that parents -- with far more impact -- would also be culpable.

It's important to remember that many facts of Michelle's case are still in dispute, with her attorney arguing that she had previously attempted to discourage him from taking his life during previous attempts to take his own life.

Suicidal depression is complicated as hell.

We won't know everything until the trial concludes -- if then.

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