The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
10 Points

Bullies Should Not Be Charged In Connection To The Death of a Peer

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Post Voting Period
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after 3 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/9/2014 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,620 times Debate No: 52015
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
Votes (3)




This argument stems from the idea that a bullied party goes on to commit suicide should criminal action be taken against the people who supposedly bullied the party?

I take the position that no action should be or can be taken.

The debate stems from an opinion question:

First Round is for acceptance.
No new arguments in the final round - keep it short for conclusion purposes mainly.

bully - one habitually cruel to others who are weaker


I accept. I take the position that in some cases of bullying, criminal action should be taken against the individuals who bullied the victim.

Debate Round No. 1


I thank my opponent for accepting this debate.

Suicide Is a Solitary Action

Suicide, by definition, is a solitary action. You must choose yourself and take actions as an individual to secure your own death for it to be considered suicide. If someone else makes this decision for you then it is not suicide but manslaughter or homicide. For it to be considered suicide you must unilaterally make the decision yourself and the party engaging in the act of suicide must take responsibility for their own actions.

Why is this important?

Other Similar Cases

Outside of insanity, it is widely known and a sad accepted fact that when someone commits suicide there is usually an outside force that has driven them to a mental state in which suicide is then considered. However, no one is ever charged in a suicide case. Why? Because suicide is a solitary action.

Consider these cases which are well documented causes of suicide...
Death of a Loved One
Alcoholism/Drug Abuse

If we are to argue that bullies should be charged in suicide cases we must also claim that banks, deceased loved ones, divorce parties and alcohol vendors should all be charged in suicide cases.

If we want to argue that outside parties who may or may not have influenced a suicide are culpable we must extend this culpability to any party that could be conceivably connected to a suicide. This is unfair and unjust.


This type of policy would cause people to rethink perfectly legal actions. If you snap at a coworker are you going to set them off? Are you going to be charged for being short with someone? I can't divorce my wife, she might kill myself and I could go to jail.

This would unfairly limit the freedom of people to act as they choose. This again stems from suicide being a completely solitary act. Being harsh at work isn't a crime. Neither is loaning to someone. But these types of actions could result in criminal prosecution if suicide leads to charges. This is completely wrong.

This makes you have to ask: why is bullying different from any of these other cases?
The answer is, it isn't. This is why bullies cannot and should not be charged in connection to a suicide. It just isn't a viable position of justice.

Thank you.



To win this debate, Con has to show why in all cases of bullying, bullies should not be charged with any criminal charges in connection to the suicide of their victims. On the other hand, I'm only expected to provide exceptional cases where the bullies should face criminal charges under the same conditions.

Con has not provided a definition of "In connection to." Therefore, I'm going to take it to mean: "As a result of something else."


Criminal action: The procedure by which a person accused of committing a crime is charged, brought to trial, and judged[1].

Crime: A violation of a law in which there is injury to the public or a member of the public[2].

Suicide: The action of killing oneself intentionally[3].


A1- "Suicide" cases can lead to more charges for any relevant crimes

If there were particular factors that lead to suicide and were themselves violations of established laws, there perpetrators(e.g bullies) should be penalized by the Law for the violations, only because they are violations of Law, regardless of whether they significantly influenced a victim's suicide. For instance, in the suicide case of the bullied adolescent Tyler Clementi, the investigation revealed heinous and homophobic crimes his roommate had committed against him, and charges of "bullying" were issued based on such violations[4]. Suicide is usually a red flag to investigate the history of a victim and determine whether any illegal practices or crimes have been committed against him, especially if he is a child or an adolescent. It is true that it could turn out that the victim was just mental and took his life for insignificant reasons. However, it is possible to discover numerous crimes committed against him such as infringement of privacy and physical abuse.

In summary, if such investigations and charges were not made and Con's resolution was followed, Tyler's roommate would have gotten away with crimes regardless if they played or didn't play a major role in Tyler's suicide, simply because "bullies should not be charged in connection to the death of their peers."

A2- In exceptional cases, Bullies can and should be charged with the Assisted Suicide Charge

An assisted suicide charge is a criminal action against anyone who knowingly helps another person commit suicide without a prior governmental regulation. For example, the bullied victim can appeal to the bullies in a moment of distress and confess that he is a worthless individual and that he wants their help to kill himself, and they can easily assist him by supplying him with a loaded gun or a poisonous chemical and watch him end in his life.

In summary, Con's position also glosses over exceptional cases where bullies can and should be charged with Assisted Suicide Charges.


Con argues, "However, no one is ever charged in a suicide case. Why? Because suicide is a solitary action."

Rebuttal: Suicide is not always a solitary action. That's why the Assisted Suicide Charge exists.

Con remarks, "If we want to argue that outside parties who may or may not have influenced a suicide are culpable we must extend this culpability to any party that could be conceivably connected to a suicide."

Rebuttal: There exists a fundamental difference between giving someone a loaded gun when you're 100% sure he wants to kill himself, and unexpectedly and unknowingly inspiring a stranger's suicidal thoughts by a James Bond movie. The former is intentional, deliberate and direct. The latter is not.

Con argues further, "If we are to argue that bullies should be charged in suicide cases we must also claim that banks, deceased loved ones, divorce parties and alcohol vendors should all be charged in suicide cases."

Rebuttal: This is nothing more than a slippery slope fallacy based on a false comparison fallacy. "A deceased loved one" has not committed a crime against you by being dead, unlike bullies who could sexually and physically abuse you. In the cases of suicide relevant to our discussion, bullying could involve components which violate established laws and are evaluated on that regard. That is to say, suicide because of a crime-free bankruptcy, the weather or a deceased loved one do not involve direct harassment and crimes against you like many cases of bullycide.

Con remarks, "This type of policy would cause people to rethink perfectly legal actions."

Rebuttal: Bullying is specifically punished for by specific violations. It's rather difficult to accuse someone of bullying, provided that you can only accuse him of specific violations and illegal practices substantiated with good evidence. That's why we have many bullies and not many convicted bullies.


Debate Round No. 2


My opponent has attempted to use petty semantics to derail this debate, but I will not let that happen.


My opponent claims that if other crimes were involved in alleged "bullying" then those crimes would be investigated and charged therefore negating the resolution. However, bullying itself is not a crime. I am not saying that sexual predators, abusers, people who commit harassment etc. should not be charged, they should be. That's not the issue at hand.

The issue at hand is whether petty bullying should have legal implications when tied to suicide and the answer is clearly no. If you sexually abuse someone and they commit suicide then sure, pursue legal action. If I was standing on the grounds of well known legal harassment there would be no debate. It would be black and white.

Now that this debate is firmly back on track, lets revisit the issue.

If a peer commits suicide and you were found to be in the act of petty bullying at the time (not sexual harassment, not prolonged physical abuse etc) against this person, should you be charged?

No. Again, suicide is a solitary action (we'll return to assisted suicide as well).

I again reiterate, it would put in jeopardy things such as free speech if you could be charged in a suicide case.

Take this example:

Bob is someone who suffers from severe depression. Due to this Bob is not very pleasant to interact with. Carl is a classmate of Bob who interacts with him on a daily basis. After months of interacting, Bob's negative attitude stemming from his depression causes Carl to snap. Carl proceeds to yell at Bob and then goes onto Facebook and makes sure to remind him to correct his attitude in the future. Carl continues to berate Bob, not criminally, but continuously for awhile.

Eventually Bob takes his own life due to many factors. However, during the investigation, Carl comes up as having been in negative contact with Bob for some time. Should he be charged?

The answer simply is no. Carl has a right to free speech to interact with Bob in such a way, even if its negative. These are the types of cases that this debate is about. If a girl is continuously called ugly by her peers and she goes onto kill herself can the peers be blamed? No.

Rebuttal - Assisted Suicide

assisted suicide - suicide with help from another person (such as a doctor) to end suffering from severe physical illness [1]

The definition of assisted suicide is HELP from another, help implies intent. You can't unwillingly help someone kill themselves. So unless bullies threaten someones life (which is a type of harassment already covered under the law) they can't be charged with this. Also, the definition stipulates two other things which disqualify schoolyard bullies from this type of charge: it's usually a doctor and it's used to end severe illness.

Bullies are neither of those two things and therefore cannot be charged with assisted suicide.


- If "bullying" violates established law they should be tried as the type of criminals the law requires i.e as a predator or abuser. However, we are not talking about this type of abuse as those actions are already illegal. We are talking about bullying in the most general sense: mean comments, maybe getting punched every so often, being cyberstalked. These things are not illegal under the law which is why these actions cannot be used to criminally charge someone with "bullying".

- Assisted suicide is used by my opponent incorrectly. Nothing in the definition fits the profile of an average bully and therefore they cannot be charged with such an activity.

Now that this debate has been put back on track, I hope my case appears more clear.




Any misunderstanding of my opponent's prior intentions and expectations regarding this debate is simply because he didn't take his time to present clear definitions and criteria, and that is something he takes the blame for. I will not accept any smuggled-in definitions or exceptions newly introduced in Round 3, because I didn't agree to those when I clicked "I accept."

In his first round, Con provided the following definition of Bully: "One habitually cruel to others who are weaker." Notice that the word "cruel" is even used in "animal cruelty" and many other horrid cases of abuse, although it is also used lightly in informal language. Because this particular word was never clarified, my opponent cannot make the clarification at a later stage, and say that he is targeting a form of "bullying" that is less cruel than what I understood.


A2- Assisted Suicide Charge

Con presented a definition from Merriam Webster which is only a brief headline, leaving out the more accurate definitions below[1]:

Full Definition of ASSISTED SUICIDE: suicide committed by someone with assistance from another person; especially : physician-assisted suicide.

Medical Definition of ASSISTED SUICIDE: suicide by an individual facilitated by means or information (as a gun or indication of the lethal dosage of a drug) provided by someone else aware of the individual's intent; especially : physician-assisted suicide.

Con remarks, "The definition stipulates two other things which disqualify schoolyard bullies from this type of charge: it's usually a doctor and it's used to end severe illness."

Rebuttal: The actual definitions in Con's citation do not stipulate those as necessary conditions; they only clarify that most of the cases happen to be physician-assisted, which is expected because people don't usually go to the hairdresser for suicide. Truth of the matter, in some cases, we don't have doctors or severe illnesses. Take for example 17 year-old Dillon Gargett, who is not a doctor, but was charged for assisted suicide when he helped his 16 year-old friend, who didn't have any severe illnesses, commit suicide by knowingly providing him with necessary equipment[2]. Imagine if he was declared innocent from the "assisted suicide charge" simply because he wasn't a doctor. That would be ludicrous at best.

Con argues that "Assisted suicide"requires intent.

Rebuttal: If Con read my example who would have seen that: (1) The bullies knew the intent of the victim was to kill himself (as he himself expressed it). (2) The bullies assisted the victim by intentionally giving him a loaded gun to kill himself.

It is important to note that "helping him get better" and 'helping him kill himself" should not be falsely equivocated in this regard. Assisted suicide is only concerned with the latter, and so the assistant could be completely apathetic, friendly or utterly hateful.

In summary, I provided exceptional cases of bullying where the bullies should be charged for Assisted Suicide, and have not yet received any good objections, but simply an inaccurate description of "Assisted Suicide" based on an oversimplified, layman definition.

A1- "Suicide" cases can lead to more charges

Pro conceded that according to my definition of "bullying" this applies, but argued using a new definition of "bullying" which he didn't clarify in the first round, and which conflicts with the definition of "bullying" from a standard and official standpoint. In the Examiner's "Convicted for bullying" article on Tyler which I presented in Round 2, "After learning about Tyler Clementi’s suicide, President Obama released a statement condemning acts of bullying and intimidation and expressing, Tyler and others did nothing wrong to deserve being bullied." In other words, Tyler's roommate criminal behavior was described as "bullying" by the the article and the presidential statement, and was said to involve crimes.

A3- Summary of Con's Case

To satisfy his BoP, Con had to disprove my exceptional cases and prove his own case with arguments.

1- Suicide is always a solitary action.

Rebuttal: Con concedes that "Assisted suicide" exists, which is a form of suicide that is not solitary. Therefore, Con is arguing for A and Not A in the same time which is a violation of the law of non-contradiction.

2- Bullying should be treated like the death of a deceased one or another naturally occurring crisis.

Rebuttal: False comparison fallacy. Bullying is intentional, constant, planned and performed by a group of people supposedly responsible for their actions.

3- Bullying policy would damage freedom of speech.

Rebuttal: Bare assertion and slippery slope fallacy, and Con ignored my previous rebuttal.


[2] The teenager who helped his friend die: 'I'm sorry'. By Joelle Dally. The New Zealand Herald:
Debate Round No. 3


Debate Conclusion

1. Suicide Is a Solitary Action

My opponent tries to wrongly pin assisted suicide onto bullies which just doesn't fit. Assisted suicide is still solitary in nature as a single person decides whether they want their life to end. Assisted suicide only exists because the person requesting suicide usually no longer has the means to kill themselves. The choice is still entirely their own.

If the choice is not entirely their own it would be a case of euthanasia which is neither assisted suicide and neither can be attributed to bullies or bullying.

My opponent continues to wrongly spout that bullies hand someone a loaded gun. Firstly, unless someone physically hands someone a loaded gun this description just doesn't fit. Secondly, even if someone did hand a person a loaded gun and they use that gun to kill themselves that is neither assisted suicide nor is it criminal.

Therefore, suicide remains a solitary action and assisted suicide cannot be pinned on bullies.

2. Semantics

I am saddened to see that my opponent took this debate and dragged it fully into one about semantics. This is not only supremely frowned upon on this site and reminds me why putting "no semantics" is usually necessary but it is also poor conduct. It shows that my opponent cannot defeat my arguments on his own merits.

To clarify, bullying in the context, and perhaps I should have been more clear, was supposed to refer to simple yet prolonged bullying. My examples, which my opponent ignored, were good examples of what I had in mind. As soon as "bullying" crosses into the realm of stalking or harassment it is no longer bullying but criminal behavior.

3. Solidifying My Case

A. Suicide is a decision unilaterally made by the person taking their own life. If the decision is not unilateral it is not considered suicide. Suicide is not a criminal action.
B. Bullying as defined is not criminal.
C. Adding two non criminal actions together, especially when the correlation between the two usually isn't that strong cannot lead to a criminal outcome.
Therefore, bullies cannot be charged in suicide cases.

While this debate was not as clear as I would have liked it to be, my case still stands. My opponent tried to mire the debate in useless and deceptive semantics. There is nothing that can link someone's actions, even if they are cruel to their suicide. Suicide isn't criminal and usually there are lots of factors that go into someone taking their own life. You cannot charge all or even any potentially guilty parties.

Therefore, the resolution is affirmed.


CONCLUSION (1304 characters remaining).

Con used the following dishonest tactics:

1- Shifting the goalposts in the 3rd round to add special-pleading specifications.

2- Completely ignoring the legal case of Dillon Gargett in an attempt to conceal the fact that his descriptions of "Assisted Suicide" were all falsified..

3- Misrepresenting his only source in this debate by treating the header at the top as the definition, while ignoring the full definitions below.

1- Assisted-suicide Charge of Dillon Gargett

It is true that suicide is solitary in the sense that it is performed by one's own decision, but I explained how it is NOT "solitary" when an outside party can decide or partake in the planning or preparation of the act itself, and that's why Dillon Gargett was convicted of "Assisted Suicide."

In other words, when someone knows Person X is going to commit suicide, provides him with the needed equipment and allows him to commit suicide without reporting it to the authorities or trying to stop him, then he is charged of Assisted suicide for his direct collaboration.

1- Dillon provided Ben with equipment knowing Ben wanted to kill himself: 'The 17-year-old[Dillon] said yesterday he could "absolutely not understand" what was going through his mind when he provided equipment for Ben Dowdell[16 year-old] to kill himself at a park in the Christchurch suburb of Sydenham last September.'

2- Dillon allowed Ben to kill himself: "As [Ben] killed himself, [Dillon] Gargett saw what was happening but made no attempt to help."

And as a result, Dillon was convicted of Assisted Suicide by the High Court[Round 3 - Citation 2].

Ben also had been bullied at school: 'Ben was a "great kid" but was also vulnerable and troubled. He had learning difficulties, was badly bullied at school and could not read social situations.'

Now if Ben walked up to one of his bullies instead and got the same assistance. What difference would it make? The judges wouldn't say to the bully "You're not his friend, great you helped him kill himself." Anyone who intentionally, directly and considerably assists someone else in taking his own life would be criminally charged.

Therefore, I've explained through an actual legal case how "Assisted Suicide" charges can also apply to bullies in exceptional cases, while Con failed to provide even one single case or shred of evidence that substantiates his objections.

Hence, I satisfied my little share of the burden of proof.

2- Semantics OR Standard Definitions

In order to understand the vague definition of "Bullying" first presented, I followed the standard definition followed by Supreme Courts, Journals(e.g The Examiner [Round 2 - Citation 4]) and presidential statements which classify some cases involving criminal behavior as cases of "bullying." I never played on semantics. I followed standard definitions because Con didn't originally include any exceptions or specifications for key-terms that could be understood in different ways.


A- Suicide is a decision unilaterally made, but not necessarily unliterary executed, prepared or planned for, which is why people like Dillon Gargett were convicted of Assisted Suicide.

B- Bullying which involves crime is defined as criminal on a legal standpoint. Con failed to provide the 'crime-free' specification in the opening statement for his usage of "bullying," when it is considerably non-obvious and important to the debate.

Con failed in satisfying his burden of proof and disproving my negative case, while using all sorts of falsehoods and misrepresentations which show that he didn't research his topic well enough or set up the debate properly.

I thank Con for starting this debate
It was at least interesting.
Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by n7 7 years ago
Pro"s arguments state that suicide is an action done alone and if we take bullies guilty of a crime, then we have to take all causes of suicide as guilty of a crime. Con gave two arguments. One is saying that suicide should be a factor included in other crimes committed and one showing that assisted suicide is a real thing, while giving an example of assisted suicide. This responds to the argument that suicide is done in solitude and he refuted Pro"s second argument by showing how it"s a slippery slope and false comparison fallacy. Pro"s rebuttal was claiming Con is engaging in semantics. He rebutted Con"s second argument by saying assisted suicide still implies some willing person. Con pointed out Pro is smuggling in definitions. I think rightfully so. Con accepted the definition as presented in round 1. His arguments are based on that, you can"t just change it. Con also showed Pro"s response to the assisted suicide argument is equivocation. Con gave a legitimate case of suicide caused by bullying that shows assisted suicide can be done by bullies, but this was ignored by Pro. Con also brought up how Pro shifted the goapost with his definition and showed Pro"s equivocation of assisted suicide.

Arguments goes to Con and conduct goes to Con for the change in definition.
Posted by ESocialBookworm 7 years ago
Interesting. I was bullied so I can empathize. But, at the same time, I think suicide is that person's option. You can always try other paths to avoid suicide. So while I think bullies are largely to blame, it's up to the person himself IMO.
Posted by The_Serb 7 years ago
I think that The Contender has taken an early lead in this debate.
As someone who, was himself bullied as a schoolboy, I sympathise with the now deceased.
I have often, myself entertained fantasies about confronting my bullies and making them feel the pain of rejection and ridicule.

But in this sample case, the bullying seems to have gone somewhat past alienation and name calling:

"The investigation revealed heinous and homophobic crimes his roommate had committed against him"

Details plz
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by n7 7 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments
Vote Placed by ESocialBookworm 7 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: While I agree that bullying should come with consequences, it is up to the individual to "bully themselves" or not by choosing suicide. Sorry Pro, but while you had good points, you didn't state your case properly in R1 or R2 and ended up being too late in arguing that it would only be for 'weak' or as you said, "petty bullying."
Vote Placed by rross 7 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: According to round 1, Pro had the burden to prove that no action can or should be taken against bullies in connection to the death of the bullied person. Con clearly showed that sometimes there may be associated crimes the bullies could be charged with. In round three, Pro tried to reframe the debate to include only "petty bullying". I agree with Con that it was too late to do so. At the end of the debate, I was convinced by Con's argument that even if bullies shouldn't be charged in many cases that result in suicide, sometimes they can and should be.

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