Harsh penalties urged for inciting suicide

Updated 2017-06-19 10:02:47 Global Times

Many in China said the country should also impose a stiff sentence on those who incite others to kill themselves, following the conviction of a woman in the U.S. for involuntary manslaughter for convincing her boyfriend to take his own life.

Michelle Carter, 20, was found guilty on Friday for sending her boyfriend a barrage of text messages urging him to kill himself, the Associated Press reported, adding that Carter faces up to 20 years in prison.

The judge found that Carter caused the death of her boyfriend, who intentionally filled his truck with carbon monoxide at a store's parking lot in July 2014, the report said.

The case sparked lively discussions in the US, with some saying it "exceeds the limits of our criminal laws and violates free speech protections" guaranteed by the Massachusetts laws and the U.S. Constitution.

The case also sparked discussions among Chinese netizens, who urged China to impose harsher penalties on those who encourage others to hurt or kill themselves, and others.

"Such behavior has caused deaths, so they should be punished," Sina a Weibo user.

Dozens of teenagers in China have reportedly hurt themselves after playing the popular "Blue Whale" game, but game organizers have rarely been punished.

A 17-year-old man surnamed Xu from Zhanjiang, South China's Guangdong Province was detained for "spreading extremism" for posting images and comments encouraging masochistic acts to a chat group.

The police said Xu posted two comments about the "Blue Whale" game in his chat group.

The chat group includes more than 300 members, Zhanjiang police said on its Sina Weibo account in May.

Originating in Russia, "Blue Whale" is an online game that encourages participants to engage in self-mutilation "tasks" for 50 days, the challenge ultimately ending in suicide.

"China does not have sufficient penalties on people who encourage others to kill themselves because of the difficulty in proving causality between the instigation and the act," Wang Sixin, a law professor at the Communication University of China, told the Global Times.

"Furthermore, grown-ups, except those who suffer from mental illness or are mentally challenged, are usually considered capable of making decisions independently," Wang said, adding that if the victim is a teenager, the instigator is more likely to be punished.

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