There’s no law on the books, but under Virginia’s common law, suicide is considered a crime. In the current legislative session, one delegate thinks it’s time for the Commonwealth to change that.
In 2011, the most recent year for which statistics are available, more than a thousand Virginians took their own lives – among them a student at the University of Virginia who suffered from depression and took a drug overdose. Her mother was heartbroken and even more upset when she learned suicide was considered a crime here. Now, her state delegate – Rob Krupicka -- is hoping to change that.
“We’ve seen a really significant rise among people in the military, and Virginia has a high military and veterans population,” says Delegate Rob Krupicka. “Too many young people are committing suicide. I’ve certainly had suicide in my family, and I’ve talked to a lot of people who have.”
Krupicka thinks calling suicide a crime puts an unnecessary stigma on a mental health problem.
“Y’know the last thing a family needs to hear after a loved one has died by suicide is, ‘By the way, this is also a criminal act,’” he explains.
Krupicka thinks society needs to talk about the problem – to recognize that it’s preventable, and to take action, so he’s introduced a bill that would eliminate the criminal label -- something most other states have already done.