Father of suicide-text teen to run Boston Marathon in his honor

For Conrad Roy Jr., running started as a way to deal with the pain of losing his son to suicide nearly four years ago – and now he’s planning to lace up his shoes for the Boston Marathon next month.

Roy is running the storied 26.2-mile race in honor of his son, Conrad Roy III, a Massachusetts teen who killed himself inside a carbon monoxide-filled truck after his girlfriend, Michelle Carter, texted him to “get back in” the vehicle when he said he was scared.

“You can’t think about it,” Carter texted Roy the day he killed himself in a Kmart parking lot on July 12, 2014. “You just have to do it. You said you were gonna do it. Like I don’t get why you aren’t.”

Carter, then 17, was later convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced last year to 15 months in jail.

Roy said the tragedy fueled him to start training for his first 26.2-mile race.

“I’m doing this because I don’t want anyone going through the pain that I had to deal with,” Roy told WCVB. “It’s better than losing a son and losing a son to suicide is the worst thing imaginable and if raising money for this foundation can save one life and stop the pain I’ve had to deal with, then it’ll definitely be worth it.”

Roy, who hopes to raise $25,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, was barely able to run a half-mile distance less than a year ago, according to his fundraising website. But he quickly learned that running was a coping mechanism for him, a way to tackle the indescribable pain of losing a child.

That soon translated to Roy finishing a half marathon in less than 2 hours.

“That achievement inspired me to set a goal of running a marathon in my son’s honor,” Roy wrote. “Suicide is preventable … I hope Conrad’s death has an infinite impact. My son was wearing a Boston Strong T-shirt when he died. I truly feel that I was meant to run this marathon in his memory.”

More than $16,000 had been donated to Roy’s cause as of Friday, according to the website.

He wants his story will inspire others to believe in themselves regardless of circumstances.

“You can always push through it,” he told WCVB. “No matter how bad you’re feeling, there’s people that care, there’s people who want to talk to you, there’s people that want you alive and it’s never the answer to end a life. You have to get through it and I recommend running. Just get out there, get some exercise meet some people.”

Carter, meanwhile, learned earlier this month that Massachusetts’ highest court will hear the appeal of her involuntary manslaughter conviction. Her attorney argued during trial that Roy was set on killing himself and that Carter was powerless to stop it. Carter has been granted a stay of her prison sentence pending that appeal.

The appeal will establish a precedent for anyone who may be “prosecuted for encouraging suicide with words alone,” Carter’s attorneys claim.

“Carter is the first defendant to have been convicted of killing a person who took his own life, even though she neither provided the fatal means nor was present when the suicide occurred,” her lawyers said in court documents. “Nothing in Massachusetts law made clear to 17-year-old Carter, or anyone else, that such circumstances could constitute involuntary manslaughter.”

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