Maddie Yates, a high school student in Louisville, KY, posted a video to YouTube on Monday around 6pm. It was, essentially, a suicide note; she killed herself minutes later, apparently. In the “world of social media” (which makes me sound like I’m 57), teens started circulating the video on Monday night/Tuesday morning. On YouTube, it reached about 10K views before it was taken down around 4:30pm on Tuesday. Access to YouTube and Twitter was shut down by the schools in the area for a while, and it became a moderately national story.
Here’s some backstory to Yates’ video and suicide; it appears she may have been (at least partially) distraught over the anniversary of her friend committing suicide. Her friend’s name was Brianna Berrier; you can read her obituary here. (Apparently she committed suicide after a fight with her mother.)
The Maddie Yates video, as noted above, is taken down from YouTube (with good measure), but the full text is below, via BuzzFeed:
I know it’s not OK for me to be doing this, but I just can’t do this anymore. It feels like I’m being swallowed whole into myself. It physically hurts. Sometimes it hurts so bad that I throw up, and sometimes I just get panic attacks. I know this is selfish. You know, the doctor prescribed Prozac for depression and anxiety, but those are just fancy words for “selfish.” I know that I’m going to hurt everyone who loves me, and I really do love them too. But I’ve been like this for so long, and there’s still a chance that the worst day might still be coming. And I just don’t see how this is a bad idea because it’s like someone’s on the 12th floor, and the room behind them is on fire. And they’re standing on the window ledge and they have a choice whether or not to jump and get away from the fire or just stay and die a slow, excruciating death. It feels like that.
But I don’t want anyone to feel like it was their fault. This was my decision, not yours. I’m the one who messed up, not you. There’s nothing, literally nothing that you could have done; you’ve all tried so hard to help me. And I tried too. I guess it’s like I don’t mean to be over dramatic, but it’s like there’s a demon inside of me [inaudible].
You can’t help me. You’ve tried. And I’m sorry. I really don’t mean to hurt anyone. Remember that I’m doing you a favor. Remember how bad of a person I really am. I say awful things. Even if I don’t mean them, I say them. You don’t even want to know the things that I think; I am not a good person. I’m doing literally the whole world a favor. But I love you, and I’m sorry. And I really, really love you.
I don’t even begin to understand the idea behind suicide. I’ve been extremely depressed in my life many a time (I feel like everyone has, even if they’re reluctant to admit it), and I’ve never actively considered that ending my life would be the best answer. That said, I’m sure there are situations where, contextually, that does seem the way to go. I think life is hard, but one of the bigger secrets to it — secret because people don’t seem to understand/embrace it enough — is that you’re ultimately not measured by how things are when everything is successful and great (because anyone can look awesome in that context), but rather how you respond to challenge and adversity. So the simple idea of continuing onward has a lot of power (at least to me).
I guess the broader thing I’d say — and you see this with school shootings too — is that no one really lives in a vacuum. You can be anti-social, sure, but if you’re a human being, two people had to produce you (even if they’re now estranged from you), and there have to be some people around you — be that school, a job, even your next-door neighbors. Whatever it is, it’s very hard for a human being to go through life with no interaction with anyone else. So try to be empathetic when you meet others. That seems like a small, trite thing to say — and in a way, it is — but you have no idea what other people around you are going through in their own lives at the moment (oftentimes, you don’t know what your own siblings are doing at the moment, if you really think about it). People hurt and something pretty simple — like caring, taking an interest, etc. — can begin to reverse the trajectory. It’s sometimes too easy to say “Oh well, that’s a life lesson” or “Thoughts and prayers” and go on with your own life. Realize that, just by being nice and taking an interest, you might be able to help someone else. That’s powerful stuff. I fail at it all the time, but I try to keep it in mind whenever I have new interactions.
Here’s another good article on the Maddie Yates situation.
And here are a couple of reactions from Twitter:
Cool, Entrepreneurial Idea:
I Always Wondered Why People Do This Too:
Apparently from a friend of hers:
And please note, this is her final tweet before tweeting out the YouTube video:
— Maddie Yates (@maddie_yates_) April 14, 2014