A former Boston College student, Inyoung You, was indicted last month by a grand jury on involuntary manslaughter charges after sending thousands of texts to her boyfriend, Alexander Urtula, allegedly convincing him to kill himself.
After a months-long toxic relationship, You began texting more aggressive and overwhelmingly abusive messages to Urtula in the days leading to his death, explicitly telling him to kill himself hundreds of times. On the day of his death, You tracked Urtula’s location and watched from a distance as he jumped off the top of parking garage to his death, according to the prosecutors in the case.
Many believe no one can be legally blamed for another’s suicide, given the victim ultimately has to make the decision for themselves and carry out the act alone.
Of course You was not the only factor in Urtula’s death, but she may have created the life and circumstances Urtula wanted to escape from and then suggested suicide as his way out.
The charge of “involuntary manslaughter,” although the correct technical term for You’s crime, sounds much more unintentional than these actions were.
There is already legal precedent for conviction in this scenario from a suicide in 2014, which was arguably even less cut and dried than the current situation.
Michelle Carter was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2017 after sending over 1 thousand messages to her long-distance boyfriend, Conrad Roy, telling him to kill himself.
Roy had already been struggling with his mental health and suicidal thoughts when Carter began sending him messages like “you just need to do it Conrad.”
Since placing blame in suicides can lead to so many blurred lines, the decisions in these cases must set a precedent for why the defendants are guilty or not guilty. These two cases are certainly not the first instances of a toxic partner leading someone to suicide; they are simply the first to be documented through texting.
People will make the argument that a toxic relationship in and of itself is not a crime — which is true. But when toxicity becomes repeated emotional and physical abuse that ends in suicide, there is undoubtedly an offense to be addressed.
You also attempted to stop Urtula from jumping in the minutes before his death, but her damage had already been done. A few regretful texts could not make up for months of degradation and exploitation.
You should face some sort of consequences after the horrific abuse she put Urtula through that caused him to kill himself.
Someone that rips the brakes from a car but attempts to pull the emergency brake seconds before crashing is still responsible for the collision.