I’ve been following this story from Missouri about Kenneth Suttner, the teenager who was allegedly bullied into killing himself. One of the bullies was the manager at the Dairy Queen at which he worked, and she has been charged with involuntary manslaughter for him supposedly killing himself because of the way she treated him at the job.
I’m too lazy to research and see if there have ever been any earlier but similar cases to this one. It’s certainly the first of its kind that I’ve heard about. If the manager is convicted, though, it will almost certainly be studied closely by your employer’s HR and Legal Teams for years to come over its implications.
Overall, I am supportive of anti-bullying laws. Bullying can leave long-term psychological effects on the victims, similar to behaviors associated with sexual harassment and stalking. Of course, it can also lead to suicide in extreme circumstances such as Suttner’s.
The trouble is that I’m not comfortable with how far this sort of prosecutorial fervor can be taken. It appears that to some degree, the county coroner pushed charges against the manager with an eye toward “making an example out of her.” By witness accounts, she was not the only source of his problems and there may have been “hundreds” of incidents at his high school from fellow students, which were ignored by teachers and administrators. Could the prosecutor round up 50-100 teenagers who were ever mean to this kid and may have contributed to the mental state that drove him to kill himself? You tell me. I don’t see why not.
What I wonder about is if some selfish prick decides to kill himself for whatever reason, maybe because I said mean things about him on this blog, can he get revenge from the grave by specifically naming me as the reason he did it so I get charged? I live in Missouri, FWIW.
What I haven’t yet found online are any copies of Suttner’s suicide notes, so I don’t know how damning all of the evidence really is that his 21 year old former manager should go to prison, but I can certainly say I don’t like the possibilities that this case opens up.
At the moment, I’m hoping for an acquittal. It’s just safer.