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Teen Urged Boyfriend's Suicide: Are Her Parents to Blame?

What would you do if you found out your child had played a role in a young man's suicide? How would you feel if you learned the child you had raised knew that the young man was thinking about suicide, and instead of telling someone and getting him help, encouraged him (some might even say manipulated him) into going through with it?

Would you take that child to Disney World, maintain to the world that she had done nothing wrong, and help her bypass a court-ordered social media ban by posting pictures of her having fun and enjoying life for her?

Because that's what Michelle Carter's mom has been doing.

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In case you missed the story, Carter is on trial for involuntary manslaughter because prosecutors say she pushed her then-boyfriend, 18-year-old Conrad Roy III, into killing himself over a series of text messages and phone calls.

Photograph by Facebook

This wasn't just mean-spirited breakup texting. It wasn't, "No one likes you, you should probably just kill yourself!" (Though, that would be bad enough.) No, this was a young girl, motivated by who knows what, taking painstaking actions to convince this young man that killing himself really was exactly what he should do. There were hundreds of messages back and forth over days, hammering the necessity of suicide home.

Her text messages to Roy, who had a long history of depression, have recently been released. And they are disturbing, to say the least. She repeatedly asked him when he was going to do it, shamed him when he started to back down, and told him to stop overthinking it when he began to worry about how his family would react. She even threw in a few "Love you's" for good measure.

In the hour before his death, she was apparently on the phone with him as he sat in his truck waiting for carbon monoxide to do its job. When he got out in a panicked moment midway through his attempt, she ordered him back into the vehicle. She even had the foresight to tell him to delete their text messages so no one would know the role she had played.

Of course, she didn't realize those things could easily be retrieved.

Reading through those text messages of hers, my first thought was, "How does someone so young get to be so evil?" Carter was only 17 at the time these text messages took place, and her main motivation seemed to be wanting the attention of a dead boyfriend. She took to social media several times following his death to publicly mourn her lost love.

My next thought was to wonder where her parents had gone wrong.

I get that sometimes kids make choices that are in complete and total contrast from how their parents raised them. I know I sure did. And I know that after a certain age, parents have very little control over the choices their children make. But up to that point, you do have some control over the value systems they enter the world with, and this girl clearly entered the world with a value system bordering on psychopathy.

It is absolutely possible she is a sociopath, truly incapable of taking the thoughts, needs or feelings of anyone else into consideration, and that her parents never could have "raised" that out of her. But you know what makes me think that's not the case?

I would still love her. But I wouldn't be publicly proclaiming her innocence and treating her to luxuries and fun along the way.

The fact that these parents have essentially been celebrating life with their daughter while she awaits trial, doing all the things mentioned above—Disney World, social media posts and unconditional love and support. They truly believe their daughter did nothing wrong.

And I can't help but wonder how any parent could read those text messages and continue to maintain their child's innocence?

Look, I love my kid more than life itself. And if she one day made choices that resulted in the loss of another's life, I would still love her. But I wouldn't be publicly proclaiming her innocence and treating her to luxuries and fun along the way. In fact, if my daughter had done this, I would be so filled with shame and remorse that I'm not sure I could walk out the door ever again. If I said anything publicly, it would be a tearful apology to the parents of this child who my child should have helped.

The truth is, I would also be slightly terrified of her. And I would be first in line calling for some very serious mental health interventions on her behalf.

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So, yeah, the fact that these parents are on the completely opposite side of this spectrum makes me think that they probably played a role in the horrifically vile person their child turned out to be.

But what do you all think? Are they at least partially to blame? Or should parents be absolved of guilt when it comes to the actions (even the criminal actions) of their practically adult children?

Featured Photograph by John Wilcox

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