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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 14, 2020 11:55 AM
From: Representative Dawn W. Keefer
To: All House members
Subject: Causing or Aiding Suicide - Shawn's Law
In the near future, I intend to reintroduce legislation that amends a provision within the Crimes Code entitled Causing or Aiding Suicide. Under this provision, any individual who intentionally aids or solicits another to commit suicide is guilty of a felony of the second degree if his conduct causes such suicide; otherwise, the offense is graded as a misdemeanor of the second degree.   

In 2019, Shawn Shatto, a young York County resident who suffered from depression, accessed a web forum dedicated to the topic of suicide and, shortly thereafter, took her own life.  Chillingly, while chatting with other individuals in this web forum, Shawn was instructed on how to prepare the poison which served as the catalyst for ending her life.  Despite informing other members of the web forum that she had ingested the poison and that she was “terrified” of dying, nobody sought or encouraged Shawn to seek help.  Perversely, one member of the forum even responded, “safe travels[.]” 

My legislation, referred to as “Shawn’s Law”, provides that the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing shall create a sentencing enhancement for any individual found guilty of Causing or Aiding Suicide when the victim is under 18 years of age or has an intellectual disability. It seems to me that such an enhancement is warranted, especially if the offense is graded as a misdemeanor of the second degree.
I hope you will join me in cosponsoring this important legislation to better protect our Commonwealth residents. 

Introduced as HB184