Do the words we say matter? Advocates respond to national suicide case

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) Following the texting suicide case that is taking place in Boston, KMVT spoke to local officials about the importance of words we use, both in person and behind a phone.

The Magic Valley Suicide Awareness and Prevention President Lori Stewart speaks about why the words we say to others matter (KMVT/Elizabeth Hadley).

"You know that old saying 'sticks and stones may break my bones by words can never hurt me,' is so wrong," said Lori Stewart, the president of the Magic Valley Suicide and Prevention. "Words are so important. Words that we tell our children, you know whether we uplift our children or we downgrade them, which has a lasting impact on them."

In the Boston case, Michelle Carter, has been convicted of encouraging her boyfriend to carry out his suicide through text messages and phone calls. Right before he was about to kill himself, he doubted it, and climbed out of his truck, but Carter called him and told him to get back in.

"The fact that he, that he doubted his actions that he stepped out of that truck and wanted to change his story was huge and it's heartbreaking that he didn't have someone on the other end of that phone that could've helped him actually change that story," Stewart said.

Scott Rasmussen, from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Division of Behavioral Health, said he and his team work to provide hope to people who may be thinking of suicide.

"Words matter because of the meaning that people take from the word," he said. "We don't control people's behavior, the outcomes, how they interpret our messages and what they do with those is entirely up to them, but we do have an influence on how people can feel based off of what we say, what we text, what we write."

Does Michelle Carter's conviction violate the First Amendment and due process? Her lawyer is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to consider her appeal.

"Thankfully I'm not the judge in the jury, I think that I would have a hard time finding criminal action in that," Stewart said.

Michelle Carter is currently serving a 15 month sentence at a jail in Massachusetts. Her case inspired the HBO documentary "I love you now die: The Commonwealth V Michelle," on HBO which premiered earlier this week.

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