Friday, November 21, 2008

19-Year Old Commits Suicide with Others Watching Online

Today I came across an article that I found frighteningly disturbing on so many levels. I will try to be brief on each point but there are so many thoughts packed in here, it is going to be tough. Abraham Biggs Jr. was teenager who was having some serious problems in life. On Wednesday November 19, 2008, he took his own life. What makes this suicide different is that it was done on a live web cam. With others not only watching, but some encouraging him to do it. 1500 people reportedly watched this kid end his own life. I actually have to pause to collect myself. This is one of the most heart wrenching things I have ever read.

11 years ago, almost to the exact day, I plotted and was prepared to carry out my own suicide. There aren't that many people that know that. If I am giving my testimony or someone finds out, I freely talk about it but I have not previously gone around pronouncing it. I am not just talking about being sad and thinking death would be better. I mean I was wrecked and had my death and the date planned out. I got lucky though. God used a classmate that I did not know so well to inadvertently bring me from the brink. I wish to God someone had been there for Abraham. [Disclaimer: I have provided a link to the note he left because I think it is important for recognizing what is going on with the people around us. This is not for kicks or entertainment. If you are using it for such, please respectfully do not click on it from my page.] Reading his note, I can identify with the pain, torment and worthlessness he felt and wonder if the people around him could see it in him. I know I was good about hiding my depression. My own parents did not know how bad I had been back then until I told them about it this year.

One of the things that I found most disturbing is that some people in that online community did not only doubt Abraham's intent, they encouraged him to end his life. Now, I am not trying to blame these people for his death. He made the final choice to end his life. But what I do want to hit on is how much people can lack in empathy that they would not only fail to provide any semblance of care and support, but would go out of their way to encourage death. I hope that you are not like that but it does remind me of the Milgram Experiment that showed almost all are capable of harming someone we don't directly know. By the time people took Abraham seriously, it was too late.

Another aspect is that we have been blessed with incredible opportunities for connecting with complete strangers because of the internet. Unfortunately, it can also rob of us of our humaneness because of the content we are exposed to. Sadly in our quest for attention and entertainment, I do not think this is the last online suicide we will read about.

If you are thinking about suicide, please stop. Go talk with someone. A friend, a parent, even a professional counselor or therapist. Life is not one we should journey in alone. And I promise you that no matter what is going wrong, no matter how bad things are, there is someone who can relate to you. There is someone that cares enough that their life would be affected by your death. But more than anything, if you end your life, you do not get to see what tomorrow holds and it might just be the day things turn around. How do I know? I was there. Hopeless. Welcoming death. In 24 hours my life did a complete 180 and I have never looked back. Come away from the edge. Someone will listen.

Please! I implore you. If you know someone that is battling depression or hear of a suicide plot online or in your community, take it seriously. Sometimes simple interaction can change things around for the person. Sometimes you need more help. Please visit the The National Institute for Mental Health and To Write Love on Her Arms for more information on suicide prevention, support, and resources.


93octane said...

Kevin, thank you for writing this.

This event was a tragedy. Are we not our brothers' and sisters' keepers?

My heart is broken.

Drew Polly said...

Having been through an attempt 15 yrs ago w/ a family member, I agree that the influence of people around and interacting in an online community can have a huge influence on folks for both the positive and unfortunately the negative. Thanks for the insightful post.

Mikey said...

i have always hated when people say that God can't forgive people who commit suicide because they have committed the unforgiveable act, like judas...but i think that God holds a special place in heaven for those who reach the ultimate rock bottom in life, because if anything, they deserve God's forgiveness and love more than one wants to commit suicide...i mean if God is all loving, wouldn't He have the biggest heart in the world for those who just couldnt' do it anymore...i mean, we all know life is tough...and for some life is deinitely tougher than others...and pain is so relative...and for each person, that pain can be too much...and so at some point, we just say, I can't do it anymore...suicide is so so sooo sad...because it at the point at which all hope is lost...but i do believe that God has mercy, Great and long mercy, for the hopeless and for the brokenhearted...and in that, I do miss the 3 people that i knew well, who killed themselves, but i feel like i have to understand, because i have been so close before also, and for some reason, in those moments, God has had mercy on me, and given me a light...but for some, He doesn't rescue in the moment, and I know I am no more worthy than any other...and so I ask why...but i rest in peace because i know that there is mercy and peace for the brokenhearted...because no matter what, God is on the other side, with open arms...

now we're blogging...proud of you Kev

UTKevDawg said...

I completely agree with you Mike. In our counseling classes, we were challenged to find any passage where God condemns suicide. It stems from the belief that because He created us, we cannot play god and destroy His creation. I am not to say if this is accurate or not. The Bible makes no such distinction. Any suicide in the Bible was a result of wickedness brought on by repeated choices that went against God. Not because life was overbearing.
I will never tell a family member any judgment placed on their loved one who has committed suicide. I trust God to be loving and deeply grieved by these acts but leave any eternal decisions to Him since he has not told us what will happen.

Amy Hutchison said...

I read through the thread where others who knew him through the forum were talking about it. It sounds like this guy could be who he really wanted to be online. His father will always feel guilt, though, and that's really sad. I think this has to be every parents' worst nightmare.

PS-My uncle killed himself on Christmas Eve when he was 16 (technically, I guess he was never my uncle since this was far before we were born). My mom always talks about how Christmas Eve has always been different in their house because of it.

Ed said...

That is so messed up. The worst part of it was reading everyone's comments after he died. Most were just worthless comments.

It is really sad how people are using the Internet to be someone else, to essentially use it as an outlet for their dark side that they dare not reveal in the real world. And Abraham was looking for help somewhere where people would accept him, and all they did was accept the fact that they did not know him.

It's an example of how sinful we are and why we need Christ. Thanks for sharing that - I know that was really tough to write.

Rachel said...

In reference to the bloggers who encouraged this young man's death: In a personal sense, the darkness of humanity (and the enemy) shocks me. I dare not take it for granted in any way. In a professional sense, it intrigues me. To what depths do we go? Are we really aware of what we're messing with? The inner workings of a person's mind, heart, and spirit run DEEP.
Despite my studies and natural giftings, my mind is still boggled by people who don't at least try to understand and/or respect others.