Pennsylvania lawmaker unveils bill to combat aiding, encouraging suicide

Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A Pennsylvania lawmaker has introduced legislation that would increase criminal penalties on people who encourage or aid a suicide.

Republican state Rep. Dawn Keefer (R-Cumberland/York) said her proposal, House Bill 1827, would increase sentences when the person who takes their own life is under the age of 18 or has an intellectual disability.

“We need to send a message to these disturbed people encouraging and guiding others to commit suicide,” Keefer said. “Our society will not tolerate these arcane and insensible actions.”

Keefer’s bill is named Shawn’s Law, for Shawn Shatto. The 25-year-old York County woman killed herself after she received a step-by-step guide on how to commit suicide from an online chat forum.

Shawn prepared poison using the information she found and then contacted the website saying she was terrified. At least one person on the forum gave her reassuring words and wished Shawn well on her journey instead of encouraging her to seek help, Keefer said.

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