Way back in 2014 I wrote a rant about the travails of belonging to an online neighborhood group that dealt only with issues in my immediate neighborhood and how something as innocuous as an apolitical online neighborhood group can attract trolls and drama llamas.

The first paragraph of that 2014 rant dealt with how I was a member of a Yahoo! group about my neighborhood but I ended up quitting it because I grew so tired of the moderator, who thought of himself as being such a comedian that he would frequently make unfunny posts that poked fun at someone else’s serious post. One such example was when someone made a post asking about some local restaurants that served vegan food and the moderator made some unfunny jokes about vegans, which incited this unnecessary online drama from people who were offended at the unfunny vegan jokes. He also drew ire with his frequent references to a group of African American teens as a “wolfpack” when all they were doing was just sitting outside on benches consuming snacks and drinks they purchased from a nearby convenience store.

A couple of days ago I learned on Facebook that the moderator of that Yahoo! group had committed suicide. He was only 51 years old. I never met the guy in person. I had formed a very unfavorable impression of him based on his less-than-impressive moderator activity on that Yahoo! group. I basically disliked the guy based solely on his so-called “funny” posts, the majority of which I either thought were unfunny, insulting, or both. In my zeal to conclude that this guy was unlikeable, I forgot that he was a human being just like the rest of us. Just because he cracked insulting jokes that hurt other people’s feelings didn’t mean that he was inhuman. In fact, it’s possible that his frequent joke-telling was a way for him to mask whatever emotional pain he was feeling yet, for whatever reason, was unable to express it in a healthy way.

Basically just because someone is obnoxious doesn’t mean that he/she isn’t going through some personal turmoil in his/her personal life. It’s possible that the obnoxious personality is the byproduct of that personal turmoil. That man’s personality probably led to a downward spiral where he probably needed help yet his abrasive personality had alienated and driven away anyone who could’ve been able to help which, in turn, led to feeling increasingly isolated which, in turn, led to becoming even more obnoxious and abrasive which, in turn, led to alienating and driving away more people who could have helped him, which, in turn, led to becoming even more isolated, etc., until it led to this tragic conclusion where he completely gave up on life altogether.

He left this life in the most dramatic way. He shot himself in the head near the Mother and Child statue in Greenbelt, Maryland sometime between 2-3 a.m. on Friday morning, March 11, 2016. I walked past that same statue yesterday where I saw this little memorial pop up.

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Someone had left a bunch of flowers, an opened Bible, and a smudge stick (which was dispensing smoke when I took these photos).

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The Bible was opened to Psalm 23 (“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures…”).

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Here’s another shot of this impromptu memorial.

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I left the area to do something else. When I returned a few hours later I saw that the flower pile had grown and there were also cards, a note, and a photograph left there as well.

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The only lesson I can provide is this: Is there anyone in your life whom you haven’t communicated with in a while? Please take the time to either call, e-mail, or text that person. It doesn’t have to be something that’s too complex or involved. You could just say something like, “I haven’t heard from you in a while. How are you doing?” This could give that person a chance to admit that he/she is overwhelmed and start talking to you instead of concluding that suicide is the only option.

Also keep this number handy in case you have someone who is suicidal: 1 (800) 273-8255. That’s the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which you can also reach online right here.

UPDATE (March 24, 2016): The local paper has details about the suicide and the life of that person that you can read right here. (The paper is only available as a .pdf format but you can see a photo of the impromptu memorial at the bottom on page 1, a cartoon mourning the deceased on the top of page 2, an obituary on page 4, a mention of the deceased in the “Our Neighbors” column on page 5, and additional stories about the deceased on page 7.)

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