TAUNTON, Massachusetts—Prosecutors are asking a judge to order a Massachusetts woman to begin serving her 15-month jail sentence for encouraging her suicidal boyfriend to kill himself.
Michelle Carter will appear in court on Monday, Feb. 11, for a hearing to consider prosecutors’ request.
Carter was convicted in 2017 of involuntary manslaughter for her role in the death of Conrad Roy III. The judge allowed Carter to remain free while she appeals in state court.
Massachusetts’ highest court upheld her conviction last week.
Lawyers for the 22-year-old Carter have said they plan to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The judge found Carter caused Roy’s death when she instructed him over the phone to get back in his truck that was filling with toxic gas.
Carter’s lawyers say she isn’t responsible for Roy’s suicide.
— Dateline NBC (@DatelineNBC) 9 februari 2019
5 Possible Signs of Suicidal Intent to Watch For in Your Loved Ones to Save a Life
1. Self-Harming Behavior
One of the clearest warning signs that someone is battling with suicidal thoughts is evidence of self-harm.
This may not always come in a clear form. Visible cutting is usually an easy-to-spot sign of self-harm, but it’s not always done as a cry for help. For some, actions like cutting or other forms of physical self-abuse are done in an attempt to distract from mental anguish by replacing it with a manageable, more distracting form of physical pain. If a loved one is trying to transfer their pain from their brains to their bodies, they may fear judgement more than the risk that self-harm can cause—and in those cases, the self-harm is often hidden.
Keep an eye out for anything that seems physically amiss. If a loved one starts to cover their body with sweaters and long pants, particularly if it seems out of character or season, or they seem to be concealing something, it may be time to have a talk about what’s causing the changes.
2. Anti-Social Attitudes
Suicidal thoughts and a decision to die may not mean that a loved one has stopped caring about others, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t withdraw from their families and friends as they contemplate the end of their lives.
Depression can cause a myriad of mental distortions. As one author wrote, even the periods of time when the “fog lifted” made it difficult to tell whether their depressed state or uplifting state was their true reality; they never knew whether their depression was their mind lying to them or their cheerful periods were all just a ruse.
When a loved one is planning to commit suicide, they often stop spending time with others. That may be due to the exhaustion caused by their depression, but could also be their way of trying to ease the heartbreak that they know their death will cause others. Suicide, as described by patients with depression, isn’t wanting to die—rather, it’s not wanting to be alive anymore. So when someone starts to pull away, try to reach out and keep them engaged. Don’t let them forget about their will to live.
3. Violent Mood Swings
The chemical imbalances in the brain that cause severe depression and suicidal behavior can cause more than just feelings of hopelessness. In some cases, they can also cause periods of mania, so keep an eye out for extreme highs and lows.
Most people associate depression with only anti-social attitudes and sad, withdrawn behavior, but manic-depressive disorders can be just as harmful to an individual’s mental state—and can often cause suicidal thoughts and behaviors when a loved one is experiencing a period of severe lows after experiencing great highs.
If a loved one seems to be acting out of character—spending a lot of money, taking risks you wouldn’t normally expect from them, or bouncing between ideas aggressively—and then going through periods of withdrawal in between, don’t simply assume they’re acting quirky. They could be dealing with manic depression, or they could simply be trying their best to pull themselves out of the depression by aggressively seeking out joy. The chemical imbalances that cause these behaviors aren’t something a loved one can overcome on their own, and they’ll need your help to identify the problem and seek professional help before they harm themselves.
4. Impulsive Actions
Be wary of impulsive choices when a loved one isn’t prone to those kinds of behaviors. There can be multiple reasons that a suicidal loved one starts to act impulsively. Sometimes, it is related to a manic episode, which is always a red flag.
Other times, though, it can be caused by the absence of fear that a suicidal individual experiences. They may want to spend their money before they die, or give someone a gift. They may want to experience things that they had always been too afraid to, or they may be desperately seeking out a way to feel happy again.
Whether a loved one is no longer afraid of consequences or trying to find their way out of the darkness, always keep an eye out for behaviors that appear to be out of the ordinary. If a meticulous planner starts to fly by the seat of their pants, it may be time to sit them down and talk.
5. Reckless Decision-Making
If a loved one starts to drink a lot, take illegal drugs, or participate in other reckless or impulsive behaviors, keep in mind that this can be just as obvious a warning sign of suicidal thoughts as a mopey teenager or locked bedroom door.
There can be other factors that cause someone to behave recklessly, but there’s rarely a good reason behind this kind of change. Even if a loved one isn’t contemplating suicide, they’ll almost certainly benefit from hearing from you if they’re engaging in dangerous, reckless behaviors like this.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
Catherine Bolton contributed to this report.