On July 13, 2014, Conrad Roy committed suicide. The fact that he killed himself, although tragic, was not what made this case unique. Suicide is thought to be the 10th leading cause of death among Americans, with someone committing suicide once every twelve minutes. What made this case stand out and grab national attention was his long-distance girlfriends, 18 year old Michelle Carter, involvement. How could someone Conrad had only met a couple of times be held responsible for his suicide? The answer to that question would soon be found in Conrad Roy’s cellphone.
In the days that followed Conrad Roy’s suicide, Michelle Carter spent a great deal of time playing the grieving girlfriend. She contacted Conrad’s mother and sister, she posted on social media about her boyfriends death and organized a charity baseball game in her home town for Conrad. Everyone felt sorry for the young grieving girlfriend but that would quickly change.
Although it was a suicide, the police still had to do an investigation to make sure everything fell into place. What they found on his mobile phone shocked his family and friends. When they pulled phone records from the past conversations between the two, they found thousands of correspondence, and almost all of it depicted Michelle as the ringleader of her boyfriends suicide. Why?Text messages between Michelle Carter and Conrad Roy were found and used to showcase Michelle’s guilt. Conrad had a history of mental illness and had been seeing a psychiatrist for his suicidal feelings. He had attempted suicide before without success. In the couples early messages Michelle had tried to convince Conrad not to harm himself but towards the end her tune had changed dramatically.
June 19, 2014 —— Text Messages From Michelle Carter to Her Boyfriend Conrad
Carter: “How do you want to harm yourself”
Roy: “Something idk yet”
Carter: “Please don’t”Roy: “I hate myself I’ll always hate myself, I’m never gonna view myself as good I’m so far behind”
Carter: “What is harming yourself gonna do?! Nothing! It will only make it worse!”
These text messages between Conrad Roy and Michelle Carter could have come from any troubled teens phone. He was expressing his feelings of failure and hopelessness, and she was urging him not to harm himself. How did a typical conversation between two young adults turn into the horrifying messages shown below?
July 8, 2014 —— Messages Between Conrad Roy and His Girlfriend Michelle Carter
Carter: “so are you sure you don’t wanna tonight?”
Conrad: “what do you mean am I sure?”
Carter: “Like are you definitely not doing it tonight?”
Conrad: “IDK yet I’ll let you know”
Carter: “Because I’ll stay up with you if you wanna do it tonight”
Conrad: “Another day wouldn’t hurt”
Carter: “You can’t keep pushing it off tho, that’s all you keep doing”
Michelle had begun trying a different form of therapy. When Conrad kept insisting and threatening that he was going to end his life, Michelle went online for answers. She reportedly stumbled on a website that gave her some pretty bad, and lethal, advice.
She claims it suggested you should go along with it when someone threatens to end their own life. Doing so is supposed to make the suicidal person change their mind. The logic doesn’t seem to add up, but it’s possible she thought she was helping during the messages above.
July 12, 2014 —— Messages Between Michelle Carter and Conrad Roy on the Day He Died
Carter: “Why haven’t you done it yet tho?”
Conrad: “I’m too messed up to”
Carter: “what do you mean?”
Conrad: “my head”
Carter: “you can’t think about it you just have to do it? You said you were gunna do it like I don’t get why you aren’t”
Conrad: “I don’t get it either. Idk”
Carter: “so I guess you aren’t gonna do it then, all that for nothing, I’m just confused like you were so ready and determined.”
Conrad: “I am gonna eventually … I really don’t know what I’m waiting for but I have everything lined up”
Carter: “No your not Conrad last night was it. You keep pushing it off and you say you’ll do it and never do. It’s always going to be that way if you don’t take action. Your just making it harder and harder on yourself. Hey wanna do it know?”
Roy: “Is it too late? Idk it’s light outside. I’m just gunna go back to sleep, love you”
Carter: “No? It’s probably the best time now because everyone’s sleeping. Just go somewhere in your truck and no ones really out right now because it’s an awkward time. If you don’t do it now you’re never gonna do it. And you can say you’ll do it tomorrow but you probably won’t.”
If you listen closely to Conrad Roy in his text messages you can hear the hesitation in his voice. It sounds like he knew he didn’t want to die, not really, and knew that making a choice when your feeling depressed like he was, was a bad idea as well. Her responses should have been comforting and gentle, she might have taken the opportunity to suggest that he was making a good choice. Instead, she pushed him relentlessly until he finally did it.
July 12, 2014 —— The Last Text Messages Conrad Roy Ever Sent
Carter: “No more thinking you just need to just do it. No more waiting”
Conrad: “on way back (he had been at the beach with his family). I know where to go now”
Conrad: “a parking lot. There’s gonna be no cars there at 9 so that’s when I’ll be found”
Carter: “Okay perfect. When will you be home?” (Perfect? What part about your boyfriend being found dead at 9pm is the perfect that?)
Conrad: “10 minutes. Haha that’s perfect?” (He noticed too!)
Carter: “Okay and well yeah idk”
Conrad “Like I don’t wanna kill anyone else with me” (He is offering an excuse, a reason not to do it! She could have used that and stopped this plan but did she?)
Carter: “You won’t?”
Conrad: “When they open the door? They won’t know it’s odorless and colorless”
Carter: “you’re over thinking …. They will see the generator and realize you breathed in CO” (Nope guess she didn’t)
It was shortly after this conversation that Conrad told his parents a lie, left the house, drove to K-marts parking lot and turned the water pump on in his truck. Michelle and Conrad spoke on the phone the remainder of the night.
We would later learn, through text messages Michelle Carter sent to another young girl, that Conrad had become frightened when he realized that his plan was working. He had exited the truck but Michelle told him to get “back in the truck”
Perhaps the most chilling part of this story is the texts she sent to her deceased boyfriend, months after Conrad had passed away.
Most of the estimated 80 messages that were sent after Conrad had taken his own life are simple declarations of love, and wishes that he were still here. She mentions that it is her birthday, and she wishes he could have been there. She also apologized to the young man because she knew she should have intervened. She apologized before she was indicted.
The case spanned over a couple of years worth of court dates before a judge passed down a guilty verdict. Michelle Carter was sentenced to two and a half years with all but fifteen months suspended. Once released, she would serve five years of probation.
Everyone had their own opinion about this case, and what should happen to the girl who persuaded her boyfriend to kill himself through text messages. Some believed she knew exactly what she was doing and should be punished severely. Others believed she did it purely for the attention she was sure to receive as a grieving girlfriend. There were a few people who felt that she was just as troubled as Conrad and needed help as well.
Regardless of whether she fully intended for him to kill himself, or if she was trying a reverse psychology technique, one thing remains the same, Conrad Roy is dead. Michelle Carter played a giant role in his death, and could have stopped the slow process by reaching out to someone!
One thing each one of us can take away from this case is the realization that words can hurt. Fifteen months will go by quickly, and then Michelle Carter will have the rest of her life ahead of her. Conrad Roy will not because in this perfect storm, her words were the nails in his coffin.
It’s vital for us to teach our children that words can hurt, and we need to take responsibility for how we choose to use such a powerful weapon. We teach our kids not to allow words to bother them, to grow a thicker skin, but words can hurt much more then people allow us to know.
What if someone had taught Michelle the gravity of the situation that she found herself in? Would Conrad Roy still be alive today? Did she become unresponsive to his threats of harm because of how often he used them? Depression has become a trend among younger generations. In some cases it feels as though young teens are competing to prove who is “more depressed” or “more messed up”. They dress in dark clothing, listen to somber music and cut themselves to make the pain disappear. This has led to a mistrust among younger generations about a persons claims to be suicide.Was that a factor in this case?
Regardless of how many times someone has cried wolf, a cry for help should never be ignored. The problem in this instance was the lack of communication on Michelle’s part. She had no problem reaching out to Conrad’s mother and sister to offer her condolences and demand attention as the grief stricken girlfriend, but why couldn’t she call when she knew Conrad was dying in a parking lot?
It’s a tragic and chilling story, and it will never make sense. Why would someone do this? Because she didn’t fully realize the impact that her words had on a fragile and vulnerable kids mind. He needed help and instead of helping him contact appropriate medical professionals, she helped him choose how to kill himself.
The full transcript can be found online and it outlines all of Conrad Roys and Michelle Carters text messages.
Make sure you take time to sit down and talk to your children about the power of their words. Help them learn to identify an unhealthy conversation. Prevent anymore cases like this one, because what if it were your kid?