Suicide Still a Crime in VA
3:22 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Lawmaker Fights Unnecessary Stigma

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. 

Sandy Hausman reports.

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.