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There's a famous case in the US of a young woman who basically pressures her online boyfriend to kill himself. The evidence was particularly damning against her and the case is clear that if she hadn't directly intervened the boyfriend wouldn't have killed himself. If you want to find out more details of the case, see here: https://www.boston25news.com/news/all-the-text-messages-between-michelle-carter-and-conrad-roy-they-day-he-died/532942907

So the question is, what is the halakhic punishment of this crime? Also, what is the name of this crime? Is it murder? Manslaughter?

*Update - I've changed the link to include all of the text messages between them so her level of involvement in the suicide is reflected.

  • "Also, what is the name of this crime? Is it murder? Manslaughter?" Do you really think those two names appear in classical Jewish sources, that you're asking whether one of them might be the Jewish name for this action? – msh210 Jul 15 '18 at 14:51
  • @msh210 Just giving them as examples – Aaron Jul 16 '18 at 0:11
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Suicide = Self Murder = Murder

There's no difference if you murder someone else, or if you murder yourself.

If you consider murder to be a sin, then you should also consider suicide to be a sin.

Hashem gave people freedom of choice, and the ability to choose good over evil. In the example given in the question, the suicide victim made a deadly choice to kill himself. Ultimately, the decision was his, and the responsibility for his death remains his.

That being said, the person that egged him on to do the dastardly deed, would be guilty of violating several Torah prohibitions. To the best of my knowledge, these prohibitions do not carry any punishment by Beis Din. However they carry a punishment by Hashem in Heaven.

  1. מסית לדבר עבירה, incitement to sin.

[See Iggros Moshe (OC 1:99) that even though Beis Din only punishes a person who incites to idolatry, the prohibition against "inciting", applies to all sins, and in any case he is punished by the laws of heaven. See also ibid. (OC 2:7) for further discussion of this point].

  1. לפני עור לא תתן מכשול, placing a stumbling block before a blind person. [Vayikra 19:14]

Included in this prohibition, is giving bad advice to another person.

The worst "bad advice" that you can give a person, is "advice" to kill themselves.

  1. לא תעמוד על דם רעך, You shall not stand by [the shedding of] your fellow's blood.

[Vayikra 19:16]

Rashi interprets: "To see his death and you can save him, such as drowning in a river and an animal or a bandits come upon him".

In this case, the woman had the power to save this man from murdering himself, and not only did she not save him, she was part of the cause of his death.

  1. הוכח תוכיח את עמיתך, rebuking a person who is doing a sin.

[Vayikra 19:17]

"You shall surely rebuke your fellow, but you shall not bear a sin on his account."

[See Rambam (Sefer Hamitzvos, Assei, 205) "The 205th mitzvah is that we are commanded to admonish a person who is performing a transgression or who is preparing to do so. One must verbally warn him and admonish him..."]

In this case, the woman would be obligated to admonish the victim, and deter him from killing himself. Instead, she incited him to sin; the antithesis of rebuke.

  • 2
    What you have written is good. But you have not answered the question, what is the punishment for each of these sins. – Avrohom Yitzchok Jul 15 '18 at 19:56
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    As I noted, the suicide victim made a conscious choice to kill himself. As such, the ultimate responsibility for his death remains his. To the best of my knowledge, the Torah prohibitions I listed, on the part of the woman, do not carry any punishment by Beis Din. However they carry a punishment by Hashem in Heaven. – IsraelReader Jul 15 '18 at 20:04
  • I'm not so convinced that encouraging suicide is as straightforward as all this in every situation. For example, if a person is terminally ill, and the patient has expressed a desire to die because s/he is suffering terribly. The doctor agrees to no longer keep the patient on life support, food, etc. - while halachically, I don't believe that a doctor may encourage such decisions, some of the items such as 1 and 2 may not apply. – DanF Jul 15 '18 at 20:27
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    @DanF You're bringing up a totally different example than the one used in the question, and to which my comments were directed. Perhaps you would like to post your case as a separate question? – IsraelReader Jul 15 '18 at 20:39
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    If according to your argument the women receives no halakhic human punishment you need to state so clearly in your answer – Aaron Jul 15 '18 at 23:32
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If one persuades someone to kill someone else we know that there is punishment from G-d similar to one that actively kills someone else as Dovid was blamed for killing Uria by sending him to the front lines even though he did't physically kill him as it says in the Gemora Kiddushin:

האומר לשלוחו צא הרוג את הנפש הוא חייב ושולחיו פטור שמאי הזקן אומר משום חגי הנביא שולחיו חייב שנא' (שמואל ב יב, ט) אותו הרגת בחרב בני עמון מאי טעמיה דשמאי הזקן קסבר שני כתובים הבאים כאחד מלמדין והוא ההוא לא דריש ואיבעית אימא לעולם דריש ומאי חייב חייב בדיני שמים מכלל דת"ק סבר אפילו מדיני שמים נמי פטור אלא דינא רבה ודינא זוטא איכא בינייהו

The Rambam Hilchos Rotzeach 2,2 paskens such a case is liable to Misa bidei Shamayim which is death executed by Heaven:

אבל [א] השוכר הורג להרוג את חבירו או ששלח עבדיו והרגוהו. או שכפתו והניחו לפני הארי וכיוצא בו והרגתהו חיה וכן ההורג את עצמו. כל אחד מאלו שופך דמים הוא. ועון הריגה בידו וחייב מיתה לשמים

So too if someone persuades someone to kill themselves which is tantamount to killing someone else as clearly stated in the Rambam quoted, the same punishment should apply of Death executed by heaven for the crime of "killing" as quoted from Rambam.

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