Suicide is still a common-law crime in Virginia-2.19.2020

Steve Mittendorff testifying in favor of abolishing this law in memory of his deceased wife, Nicole Mittendorff

HB1063-2.19.2020-After 25 hours, and a $100 worth of parking fees, not to mention lost wages since I’m self-employed, our team met defeat yet again. I had been there for about 2.5 hours but I had to leave for a speaking engagement.

My argument was that no matter what you think about suicide, it’s declared a public health issue by the National Institutes of Health, The Department of Defense and the World Health Organization. If they see it as a health issue, then the state of Virginia needs to follow suit. Period. The rest of the world has decriminalized it, why aren’t we?

While so many make the stigma argument, it has just never caught on among the majority of politicians. It’s too touchy-feely I guess which is why I just stick to the science. But this quote from someone with lived experience broke my heart and brought me to tears. Stigma and fear do keep someone from getting help.

I was too afraid to call for help, as I knew I would be handcuffed and I was afraid of being arrested. I was so sick that my kidneys started shutting down and I couldn’t think straight, yet I was too afraid to call for help. Somehow, I lived. I ate ice chips covered in sugar, vomiting for days.” 

Suicide attempt survivor who wanted to reach out for help after self poisoning but was afraid to

Just so you know, no one has been arrested or charged in Virginia as it relates to a suicide or suicide attempt. The law is on the books since Virginia was established in Jamestown and is a leftover vestige of the 1300s England. It has no statutes. So why not just remove it then? But for six years, they just push it to “later.” The argument has always been about assisted suicide.

Suicide is a lone act and defined as such. It should not even be in the same sentence as Assisted Suicide which is actually euthanasia. That phrase “assisted suicide” shouldn’t even exist. That law has statutes of its own. It’s the same debate for the last six years. But for some reason, they think removing the common law crime means that it gives people permission to perform euthanasia.

A gem of a quote from one of the senators.

“None of this is going to bring anybody back”

J. Chapman Peterson

This time they are going to review the bill at the Boyd Graves Conference which is the Virginia Bar Association Conference. That was the final decision.

McClellan gets it. She was our hero.

The video of the session is here. I tried to upload on YouTube but it’s a violation to upload a clip. So our bill is about 3:33 in. So move the little bar forward to see our session.

I was hopeful because it did so well in the house committees. I was hopeful. But frustrated and blue over this defeat. Some days I feel like I’m not accomplishing anything.

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked TEDx speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my youngest son, Charles to substance use disorder and suicide June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Professional Speaker Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

9 thoughts on “Suicide is still a common-law crime in Virginia-2.19.2020”

  1. So when your loved one takes their life in Virginia, they are also technically a criminal. Lovely. I’ll be writing Mr. Peterson…

  2. I’m sorry things went this way. Our legislative process and logic (or should I say lack thereof) is so frustrating. They do not consider reason and science over knee jerk emotion. So much needs to be fixed in our government. Don’t feel defeated, even if it doesn’t change now, you are paving the way.

  3. Oh, Anne Moss. This makes my heart heavy. I was just telling colleagues about your work towards bringing Virgina into this century with abolishing this ancient law. My friends were in disbelief that suicide is considered a crime in VA.
    I can’t believe these people are so … You and those working with you are doing an amazing job. Please don’t let this set back get in your way(Knowing you I know it will not!). I am praying for strength for you to continue all of your great work. YOU are making a huge difference and saving lives!!! Hugs to all of you who are working so tirelessly! 🙏🙏🙏

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