Text Messages and Teenage Suicide

SvengaliEver read Trilby by George Du Marier? If not, put it on your list. Trilby introduces us to the character of Svengali (not to be confused with Svengoolie) who, years before Lamont Cranston, was successful in clouding men’s (and especially women’s) minds and getting them to do all sorts of nefarious things. When I was about fifteen I too considered studying mesmerism as a means to control the minds of nubile young girls down at the beach. Of course it never worked and my reward was sadly to wear a towel around my waist most of the day. Puberty was hard.

But in all seriousness, do you think it’s possible to convince someone to go against their best interests? Would you need a swinging pocket watch or a six-pack of Brew 102 or just a black cape and fangs? To be somewhat modern, I suppose you might use a Smartphone and fast thumbs. Then again, what about those Prom Night movies where one of the group of best friends comes back from an unfortunate death to mercilessly butcher all her one-time friends (just because they facilitated her early demise)?

Checking the AP feed on Twitter I came across this story. Was this a movie? Can the Smartphone be considered an accomplice to the crime? If you think about it, however, this isn’t too funny:

Text messages in Massachusetts teenage suicide case

By The Associated Press
Sep. 9, 2015 1:48 AM EDT – 164

Massachusetts prosecutors say Michelle Carter sent her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, dozens of text messages urging him to take his own life. Carter’s lawyer says she tried repeatedly to talk him out of it and only began to support the plan when it became clear he would not change his mind. Here are excerpts from their text exchanges, with messages cited by her lawyer first, followed by those cited by prosecutors:

— June 29, 2014:

Carter: “But the mental hospital would help you. I know you don’t think it would but I’m telling you, if you give them a chance, they can save your life”

Carter: “Part of me wants you to try something and fail just so you can get help”

Roy: “It doesn’t help. trust me”

Carter: “So what are you gonna do then? Keep being all talk and no action and everyday go thru saying how badly you wanna kill yourself? Or are you gonna try to get better?”

Roy: “I can’t get better I already made my decision.”

Smartphone— July 7, 2014:

Roy: “if you were in my position. honestly what would you do”

Carter: “I would get help. That’s just me tho. When I have a serious problem like that, my first instinct is to get help because I know I can’t do it on my own”

Roy: “Well it’s too late I already gave up.”

— Between July 6, 2014 and July 12, 2014:

Carter: “Always smile, and yeah, you have to just do it. You have everything you need. There is no way you can fail. Tonight is the night. It’s now or never.”

Carter: “(D)on’t be scared. You already made this decision and if you don’t do it tonight you’re gonna be thinking about it all the time and stuff all the rest of your life and be miserable.

You’re finally going to be happy in heaven. No more pain. No more bad thoughts and worries. You’ll be free.”

Carter: “I just want to make sure you’re being serious. Like I know you are, but I don’t know. You always say you’re gonna do it, but you never do. I just want to make sure tonight is the real thing.”

Carter: “When are you gonna do it? Stop ignoring the question”

Carter: “You can’t keep living this way. You just need to do it like you did the last time and not think about it and just do it, babe. You can’t keep doing this every day.

Roy: “I do want to but I’m like freaking for my family I guess. I don’t know.”

Carter: “Conrad, I told you I’ll take care of them. Everyone will take care of them to make sure they won’t be alone and people will help them get through it. We talked about this and they will be okay and accept it. People who commit suicide don’t think this much. They just could do it.”

Of course suicide is never funny (except in M*A*S*H). I believe I read that suicides are trending upward, especially for the returning armed forces. Why do you think that is?

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