Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signs legislation to impose tougher sentences on those who aid or abet suicide
Governor Tom Wolf signed Shawn’s law.
On Thursday, the governor’s office announced that Wolf had signed a law that would strengthen penalties against those found guilty of aiding or abetting suicide. The parents of a Newberry Township woman who committed suicide have claimed the bill.
The bill is named after Shawn Shatto, who suffered from depression when she committed suicide in 2019. She received step-by-step advice on how to die from poisoning from a discussion board in line.
State Representative Dawn Keefer of R-York County sponsored the legislation. She first introduced the bill in the last legislative session.
In Shatto’s case, Keefer described the actions of the forum moderators of committing “proxy assassination”. His bill allows for an increase in the sentence for those found guilty of aiding or abetting a minor or a person with an intellectual disability to commit suicide.
After Wolf signed the bill, Shatto’s mother Jacqueline Bieber said in a statement Thursday that she was grateful to see the measure enacted. But she also said more needs to be done.
“As our lives have been shattered forever after the tragic loss of our beloved daughter, Shawn, we have the power to fight against ugly predators and to fight for our youth, to fight for life and to fight for other families in Pennsylvania for the purpose of saving. get them out of this painful heartbreak while offering them hope, ”Bieber said in the statement.
She added, “We need to work towards adequate funding for our mental health system, provide incentives for mental health professionals to attract people to the profession and provide sufficient funding for our mental health and developmental disability programs. or IDD. And work to shut down those horrible sites out there. “
According to the Senate note on the bill, there were an average of 12 convictions per year from 2016 to 2018 of people who caused or assisted in suicide.
Shatto’s death is still under investigation by Newberry Township Police, the York County District Attorney and the FBI, Keefer said.
Last week, the House of Representatives voted 152-49 in favor of the Senate changes to the bill. The measure had its detractors. Some, including State Representative Tim Briggs of D-Montgomery County, have argued that the legislation does not differentiate between cases like Shatto’s and less egregious cases, like a close friend dealing with a terminally ill person.
Keefer argued that the actions of those who encouraged Shatto to kill himself were “outrageous” and called for tougher penalties.
In his statement, Bieber cited the website’s direct encouragement to explain to Shatto and others how they can end their lives, describing the “cruelty” and “sheer evil” that led to his daughter’s death. .
“Shawn lost his life in the dark, but she did it with the HELP of the dark,” Bieber said.
Wolf signed the law at the end of National Suicide Prevention Month.
For those who are struggling, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services notes that there are a plethora of resources available and people willing to help around the clock.
- The national suicide prevention lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.
- The national suicide prevention lifeline in Spanish is 1-888-628-9454
- For Mental Health Crisis Text Line: Email PA to 741741
- Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255
- TrevorLifeline for LGBTQ people: 866-488-7386
- Trans Helpline: 877-565-8860
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