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Shawn’s Law enhances sentences for those who cause or aid in suicide


Harrisburg, PA – Shawn’s Law (a House Bill that would enhance a sentence for causing or aiding suicide when the victim is under 18, has an intellectual disability or is on the autism spectrum) has officially been signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf.

The bill is named in memory of Shawn Shatto, who was suffering from depression when she took her own life in 2019. She received step-by-step instructions on how to die by poisoning herself from an online chat forum.

The victim’s mother saws, although she’s glad to see this bill signed into law, it’s just one step in a long fight for providing adequate mental health services.

House Bill 184, also known as Shawn’s Law, amends Titles 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes to enhance a sentence for causing or aiding suicide when the victim is under 18 years old, has an intellectual disability, or has autism spectrum disorder.

State Rep. Frank Ryan (R-Lebanon) was one of the sponsors of the bill. He discusses legislation known as Shawn’s law – designed to aid suicide prevention efforts.



It is just one of the three bills that Governor Tom Wolf signed into law on Thursday. The other two are House Bill 1774 and House Bill 1861.

House Bill 1774 amends the Achieving Better Care by Monitoring All Prescriptions Program (ABC-MAP) Act to allow additional designated personnel to access information through Pennsylvania’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. Following the expiration of the opioid disaster declaration in August, this legislation enables important information-sharing among commonwealth agencies that will help the commonwealth continue to reduce overdose deaths among Pennsylvanians.

House Bill 1861 amends The Administrative Code of 1929 to provide for temporary regulatory flexibility authority. The bill temporarily extends certain suspensions of regulations and statutes that were issued by agencies under the COVID-19 disaster declaration through March 31, 2022.