This morning in a Brooklyn park a 30-year-old aspiring model was found hanging in an apparent suicide. Hours earlier he had left what many are viewing as a "suicide note" on his Facebook status update, which read:
"...born in San Francisco, became a shooting star over everywhere, and ended his life in Brooklyn... And couldn't have asked for more"
Paul Zolezzi used a very public forum, Facebook, to tell the world that he was here and lived a life in all its glory, but was now ending it. And then he went out and took his life in a public place. To me, this hints to him wanting to be noticed and remembered. Something I think we all want.
Tonight, Zolezzi is clearly noticed because the news of his suicide spread like wildfire across the social Web.
I first learned of Zolezzi's suicide this afternoon when I saw his picture and a headline of his death in my stream on FriendFeed. It linked to a post by Duncan Riley of The Inquisitr.
After reading Riley's post, I noticed a flurry of other stories and blog posts of Zolezzi's suicide. The news spread quickly and gained a lot of attention because of Zolezzi’s use of Facebook to leave his final message to the world before taking his own life.
Social networking sites have become so ingrained in our everyday lives that it's only natural that a private act like suicide becomes so public. Zolezzi's suicide is not the first suicide to be associated with a social network. Just a few months ago on November 19, 2008, Abraham K. Biggs of Florida committed suicide while broadcasting it live on Justin.tv, a popular online video site. Biggs was 19 years old.
Death and suicide are never easy and the public openness of the social Web adds an additional layer of complexity for the families and friends of Zolezzi, Biggs and any others who have used social networks prior to taking their own life. And I suppose it even impacts strangers. I know it affects me, which is why I'm blogging about it.
Any time a young person dies it has an impact on me, but especially suicide. I am all too familiar with suicide and its aftermath. My father hung himself 13 years and three days ago -- February 17, 1996. With every suicide I read and hear about it brings back the night of when I learned of my dad's suicide, just as it did today when I read about Zolezzi’s suicide.
My heart goes out to Zolezzi's family and friends, especially his mother. I know that kind of pain and it saddens me when others have to experience it. Too many of us have, as you can see and hear in this Good Charlotte music video, which includes others sharing their stories about the impact of suicide.