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'Conrad's Law' Would Make It A Crime To Encourage Suicide In Massachusetts

BOSTON (CBS/AP) -- The family of Conrad Roy, the 18-year-old who died by suicide after being coerced by girlfriend Michelle Carter in a case that made national headlines, is pushing for new legislation aimed at preventing the same thing from happening to others in Massachusetts.

"Conrad's Law" would criminalize suicidal coercion in the state. On Thursday, Conrad's mother Lynn Roy said this is the first time she's felt joy in her heart since the death of her son.

"My son was the most kind, warm, compassionate person," she said. "By passing Conrad's Law, I truly believe this is the perfect way to honor him."

A judge found that Carter caused the 18-year-old Roy's death in 2014 when she told him to "get back in" his truck as it was filling with carbon monoxide in Fairhaven.

Her case drew international attention due to its thorny legal questions and the insistent tone of Carter's text messages to Roy.

Conrad Roy
Conrad Roy. (Photo credit: Janice Roy)

"I thought you wanted to do this. The time is right and you're ready — just do it babe," Carter wrote in one message.

"You're finally going to be happy in heaven. No more pain. It's okay to be scared and it's normal. I mean, you're about to die," she wrote in another.

Carter was convicted of manslaughter after Roy's death, but supporters of the bill said that's not always the most appropriate charge. This bill would specifically punish people for intentionally encouraging someone to take their own life if they knew that person was experiencing suicidal thoughts.

State Sen. Barry Finegold, who is sponsoring the bill, said Conrad's Law would make it clear that kind of behavior is unacceptable. Those convicted under the new law would face up to five years in prison.

"Teen suicide has skyrocketed over the past two decades," Finegold said. "We want to teach our young people that we all need to be more responsible about how we treat those coping with mental health challenges."

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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