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Virginia Delegate Hopes To Decriminalize Suicide

There's no law on the books, but under Virginia's common law, suicide is considered a crime. In the current legislative session, one delegate thinks it's time for the commonwealth to change that.

In 2011, the most recent year for which statistics are available, more than 1,000 Virginians took their own lives, among them a student at the University of Virginia who suffered from depression and died after a drug overdose. Her mother was heartbroken and even more upset when she learned suicide was considered a crime here.

Now, her state delegate, Rob Krupicka, is hoping to change that.

"We've seen a really significant rise among people in the military. Too many young people are committing suicide. I've certainly had suicide in my family, and I've talked to a lot of people who have," he says.

Krupicka thinks calling suicide a crime puts an unnecessary stigma on a mental health problem.

"The last thing a family needs to hear after a loved one has died by suicide is, 'By the way, this is also a criminal act,'" he says. 

He thinks society needs to talk about the problem to recognize that it's preventable, and he's introduced a bill that would eliminate the criminal label, something most other states have already done.

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