Encouraging suicide bill approved by state House, heading to Senate

Bill would make it illegal to encourage suicide

LITTLE ROCK, AR (KAIT) - A bill that would create an offense of encouraging the suicide of another person is moving its way through the Arkansas legislature, with House members approving the bill earlier this week.

The House voted 82-3 March 13 to approve House Bill 1625, sponsored by Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R-Paragould).

According to a report from Little Rock television station KARK, Gazaway began working on the bill after hearing about a case involving a Massachusetts teenager in which the teenager’s girlfriend encouraged him to go through with a suicide attempt.

“She was urging him, ‘Tonight’s the night. You have to do it now. You can’t back out. Don’t worry about your family. I’ll make sure that they’re okay,” Gazaway said on the House floor this week.

The girlfriend was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the case, according to KARK.

The bill creates the new law - a Class D felony - if a person seeks to persuade, incite or urge the suicide of another person.

“A person commits the offense of encouraging the suicide of another person if (1) the person uses persistent language, either spoken or written, to purposely encourage another person to commit suicide; and (2) as a proximate result of the person’s encouraging the suicide of the other person, the other person commits suicide or attempts to commit suicide and the attempt results in serious physical injury,” the bill notes. “A person may not be convicted of encouraging the suicide of another person if the person has been charged, tried for, or convicted of a homicide offense under the theory of accomplice liability that arises out of the same set of facts.”

The bill now heads to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Copyright 2019 KAIT. All rights reserved.