Under English common law, suicide was a felony resulting in forfeiture of property and ignominious burial. In America, suicide is not illegal, and only a few states punish attempted suicide.
2. Due to Another’s Acts
If the victim of one’s criminal acts commits suicide, one may be culpable for that person’s death.
If another’s suicide is the natural and probable consequence of one’s unlawful and criminal treatment, one may be held culpable for homicide.
Joinder in highly reckless activities is sufficient proximate cause for a finding of culpability for another’s self-infliction of a mortal wound.
Aiding and abetting a suicide is differentiated from homicide in that one aids and abets suicide by helping to prepare the way for another’s suicide, whereas it is homicide if one actually performs the overt act resulting in death. See, MPC § 210.5.
a. Separate Offense
Some jurisdictions make the aiding and abetting of suicide a separate offense from homicide. This offense may be graded as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the state.
b. Included Under Homicide
Other jurisdictions treat aiding and abetting another’s suicide as culpable as murder. Since there can be no consent to murder, there can be no consent to receipt of assistance for suicide.