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Suicide: When The Power Of Influence Is Wielded Dangerously

An influencer is an individual who has the power to effect purchases and decisions of others because of their authority, knowledge, position or relationship with their audience.  What if they are selling DEATH?

The news I’m about to share is sicking, and if talking about suicide is a trigger I would stop HERE… Enjoy a happy cartoon here, because we are going to dig deeper from this point onward.

Not all sales pitches are for products, some are to influence an individual’s actions to a specific end result. This is what caught my attention when reading the news today—a then 17-year girl influences—her boyfriend to take his own life by suicide back in 2014. The messages were via text and “under Massachusetts law makes her eligible to be sentenced as an adult. She faces a sentence of probation, or as much as 20 years.” – Suicide

When the Power of Influence is Wielded Dangerously

Positive influence can have good results, encouragement, commendation, validation, and support of friends and loved ones and can yield positive changes.

What happens when this positive style of influence is used against people. This statement on its own could be very positive:  “The time is right and you’re ready, you just need to do it!”  Sounds like someone is encouraging a friend to accomplish a good goal.

Sadly, it is not positive, rather it makes up the text conversation that led to the death of Conrad Roy III, by a Massachusetts woman (17 at the time and convicted) of coercing her boyfriend over text messages into killing himself!

“Carter was 17 when Roy died by suicide and was listening on the phone while it happened. At the time, Carter had just recently gotten out of a psychiatric hospital, The Globe reports.”

“The evidence against the defendant proved that, by her wanton or reckless conduct, she caused the victim’s death by suicide,” the court concluded.

She urged 18-year-old Roy, who was suicidal at the time, to kill himself with carbon monoxide from his pickup truck in a Fairhaven parking lot in July of 2014.

When Roy had second thoughts about doing it, Carter texted him to “get back in.”

“They won’t be in depression I won’t let that happen. They know how sad you are and they know that you’re doing this to be happy, and I think they will understand and accept it,” she said. “The time is right and you’re ready, you just need to do it! You can’t keep living this way.” – Court Upholds Conviction Of Michelle Carter In Texting-Suicide Case

“Reckless or wanton words causing death.” Now, I’m not 100% sure how this will affect the many other cases of bullying someone to take their own life by suicide. Having the text as a record may be the reason for this conviction.

A conviction seems light on jail time with a hefty 4 million lawsuit to follow. This person’s life will be sustained by government help, via food stamp or Medicaid. Since they may never be able to pay the lawsuit, I was thinking it will be garnished from any money they earn in the future. Her life is going to be affected forever, BUT she is still better off than how she influenced Roy, she will still be alive!

What is bullying? see:

This relentlessly bullied, cyberbullying/cyberharassment or verbally abuse leading to death by suicide is tragically not new. Cyberbullying is making a headline and every state has laws to help prevent it. See the chart below.

Chato Stewart

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Originally Posted at Chato Stewart’s Mental Health Humor at Psych Central:

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States Prohibiting statement Definition Scope Protected groups District policy requirement Reporting and investigations Consequences
Alabama X X X X X X X
Alaska X X X X X X
Arizona X X X X X
Arkansas X X X X X X X
California X X X X X X X
Colorado X X X X
Connecticut X X X X X X X
Delaware X X X X X X X
District of Columbia X X X X X X X
Florida X X X X X X
Georgia X X X X X X
Guam X X X X X X X
Hawaii X X X X X X X
Idaho X X X X X X
Illinois X X X X X X X
Indiana X X X X X X
Iowa X X X X X X X
Kansas X X X X
Kentucky X X X X X X
Louisiana X X X X X X
Maine X X X X X X X
Maryland X X X X X X X
Massachusetts X X X X X X X
Michigan X X X X X X
Minnesota X X X X X X X
Mississippi X X X X X X X
Missouri X X X X X X
Montana X X X X X X
Nebraska X X X X
Nevada X X X X X X X
New Hampshire X X X X X X X
New Jersey X X X X X X X
New Mexico X X X X X X X
New York X X X X X X X
North Carolina X X X X X X X
North Dakota X X X X X X
Ohio X X X X X X
Oklahoma X X X X X X
Oregon1 X X X X X X X
Pennsylvania X X X X X X
Puerto Rico X X X X X X
Rhode Island X X X X X X X
South Carolina X X X X X X
South Dakota X X X X X X
Tennessee X X X X X X
Texas X X X X X X
U.S. Virgin Islands X
Utah X X X X X X
Vermont X X X X X X X
Virginia X X X X X X
Washington X X X X X X X
West Virginia X X X X X X
Wisconsin X X X X X
Wyoming X X X X X X

Suicide: When The Power Of Influence Is Wielded Dangerously

Chato Stewart

Chato Stewart has a mission, to draw and use humor as a positive tool to live, to cope with the debilitating effects symptoms of mental illness. Chato Stewart is a Mental Health Hero and Advocate. Recovery Peer Specialist board-certified in Florida. Chato is the artist behind the cartoons series Mental Health Humor, Over-Medicated, and The Family Stew - seen here in his blog posts. The cartoons are drawn from his personal experience of living with bipolar disorder (and other labels). [email protected]

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APA Reference
Stewart, C. (2019). Suicide: When The Power Of Influence Is Wielded Dangerously. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 6, 2020, from


Last updated: 14 Feb 2019
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