We’ve written several times about Michelle Carter, the teenager convicted of involuntary manslaughter for convincing her boyfriend to commit suicide over text back in 2014. My thoughts have evolved considerably since the story broke, although I have been consistent about not believing that Carter should have been convicted for what is not technically a crime.
In 2017, based on the newspaper headlines, I thought Carter was evil. However, after watching the two-part documentary on HBO, I Love You Now Die, I was left with the impression that both she — and her boyfriend, Conrad Roy — were just seriously unwell. (Kristy, coincidentally, offered another take of the documentary just this weekend). Carter did bully Conrad Roy to get back into his truck, where he died of carbon monoxide poisoning. However, Conrad Roy was predisposed to suicide — he had a history of suicide attempts (four, in fact), an abusive father, and a history of depression. Carter herself had her own problems with mental illness and depression, for which she was taking prescription drugs. In her own mind, she truly believed (wrongly, obviously) that suicide was the best option. But also, they were teenagers who — grand scheme of things — barely knew each other (they’d only seen each other in person five times, lived an hour away from each other, and conducted their relationship almost entirely via text).
It’s a lot for the state to put the responsibility of another person’s life on a mentally unstable teenager who suffered from depression, romanticized Glee, and barely knew her boyfriend. I completely understand why Conrad Roy’s parents wanted to find someone to blame for the death of their son, but legally or philosophically, this one didn’t make a lot of sense to me, though I cannot imagine the grief Roy’s parents must have felt.
In either respect, Michelle Carter was released this morning, having served 11 months of her 15-month sentence. Her sentence was reduced for good behavior.
Hopefully, outside of prison, she can find the mental health services she needs.