This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide please call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.
In the third episode of Hulu's "The Girl From Plainville," Lynn Roy (played by Chloe Sevigny), closes her eyes while having a sip of white wine, and attempts to verbalize the grief of losing a child.
“There was a minute today when I forgot. Just a minute. And then I remembered and it was like he died all over again, and I feel guilty all over again,” Lynn says in “The Girl From Plainville.”
Lynn's son, Conrad "Coco" Roy III, takes his own life in the opening scene of the harrowing Hulu series, which is based on a true story. Elle Fanning stars as Michelle Carter, a Massachusetts woman convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2017 for encouraging Roy, her boyfriend, to take his own life over text message.
In 2014, Carter texted Roy as his pick-up truck filled up with carbon monoxide in a K-Mart parking lot in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. Roy struggled with social anxiety and depression, and had experienced suicidal ideation in the past. For her role in 18-year-old Roy's death, Carter was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in 2017 and served 11 months in prison.
The case was also explored in an Esquire article by Jesse Barron and a two-part documentary called "I Love You, Now Die."
Speaking to TODAY, Sevigny said she had been "drawn to Lynn," who now goes by her married name Lynn St. Denis, ever since encountering her in the HBO documentary. Sevigny describes her a "cool mom," someone "grounded, dry and salt of the earth."
"There’s just some quality to this woman," Sevigny recalled thinking while watching the documentary. "I felt, of course, an immense and deep pain and sadness for what she had been through. There was also levity to her — a kind of a peace that somehow she had found through this tragedy."
Sevigny saw "The Girl From Plainville" as a chance to further St. Denis' mission.
"I know how important is for Lynn to tell Conrad’s story and to keep him alive in the public eye," Sevigny said. "I wanted to help be a part of telling his story and their story."
Currently, St. Denis is campaigning to pass “Conrad’s Law,” a proposed bill that would make Massachusetts the 43rd state to criminalize suicide coercion. "There is no law that criminalizes encouragement of suicide in Massachusetts," Carter's lawyer, Joseph Cataldo, explained in "I Love You, Now Die."
Speaking to People, St. Denis said she hopes “The Girl From Plainville” will draw a wave of attention to Roy’s story, while also expressing the fear that it might “defend (Carter’s) needless and evil actions.”
"(St. Denis) wants to help other families that may be facing a similar struggle. To me, what she’s going through is very specific yet also very universal — whether or losing a child or a father or brother or sister or sibling, friend, anyone that you’re close to and have a real connection with and love with," Sevigny says.
While the show is based on a very specific case, Sevigny hopes that viewers resonate with her portrayal of Lynn through the many stages of grief, just as she was once drawn to to the real Lynn.
"I hope that people can watch the show and see Lynn struggling through the pain — working through it, blaming herself, blaming others, finding peace, losing her mind and gaining it back again," she said. "They can feel less loneliness in their own grieving process."
“They can feel less loneliness in their own grieving process.”
Given its complexities, Sevigny was eager to take on the role. “I thought that there was so much there to explore,” she said. The nine-part series, Sevigny said, gave creators the “time and space to examine the case from all angles and see how far-reaching it was.”
"I think our showrunners (Liz Hannah and Patrick Macmanus) approached the material with great sensitivity and respect for everyone in the story everybody we’re portraying," Sevigny said.
Jumping back and forth in time, the series focuses on the teenagers' relationship and its aftermath. Roy and Carter, who lived an hour apart in Massachusetts, met on vacation in Florida in 2012.
While St. Denis said in "I Love You, Now Die" that she only saw Carter about five times in Massachusetts, the teenagers built up a virtual relationship, exchanging thousands of texts. Roy, who was clinically depressed, opened up about his unhappiness and suicidal ideation to Carter.
A character study, “The Girl From Plainville” never definitively explains Carter’s motivations for encouraging Roy to take his own life, and even suggesting methods (a police investigation revealed that in one text, she wrote, “Why don’t you just drink bleach?).
Sevigny developed a theory about Carter while filming. "I think Michelle thought what she was doing was the right thing, as bizarre as that may seem to all of us. I think that she wanted to be supportive of Conrad, and she thought that was the right way to support him," she said.
"The Girl From Plainville" does not condone the course Carter took, even while showing her actions. "I think the show sheds light on what is the right way. (Michelle) should have reached out to others to help him," Sevigny said.