Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Witness to Suicide at Powell and Market

Onlookers laugh and cheer as a man jumps to his death – and we wonder why more people aren’t vegan?!

I was there today when a man killed himself before a live audience of bystanding spectators in San Francisco.

I was biking down Market Street when I saw a massive crowd gathered near the Powell Street cable car turnaround. They were frantically yelling, a combination of anxious cries and excited cheers, as though watching the climax of an intense sports match. I figured it must be a fistfight, but I was wrong…because the shouting then rose to a sudden cacophony punctuated by a dense fleshy thump.

I had never heard a sound like that in my life, and wondered what the hell it could be. Traffic had stopped, people were rushing across Market, and police & ambulances were screeching in, so I crossed the street to find out, and saw, right on the north side of the Powell BART station fence, a handful of cops standing over a shirtless man lying face-down in a bloody pool on the sidewalk. People were pointing up at the window ledge of the third-floor apartment above the “Forever 21” store he’d just jumped from, and holding cameras in the air snapping pictures of the corpse.

This nightmarish scenario was disturbing enough, but far worse was overhearing numerous young people actually laughing and saying things like “Oh shit! Did you see that?!” and “That was so cool!” One twenty-something woman nearby even loudly bragged to her friend on a cell phone that “I was yelling ‘Jump! Jump!’ And then he jumped!”

We may well wonder what caused 32-year-old Dylan Yount to take his own life. I don’t know his reasons, but maybe it had something to do with being sick and tired of living in a world where shit like this happens?

Call me naïve or out of touch, but I was actually shocked that some people’s response to seeing a fellow human violently end his tortured existence was about the same as if they’d just watched a YouTube video of a guy getting repeatedly kicked in the balls.

It’s existentially insane that, in this day and age, supposedly civilized folks consume actual, real-life atrocity as a form of entertainment while it's actually happening. The fact that these grotesque inhuman deformities actually felt comfortable broadcasting their repugnant monstrosity to everyone within earshot makes my heart ache. But what makes it so much worse is that they actually felt compelled to publicly proclaim the deadness of their souls.

Significantly, all of those I personally observed deriding Dylan's death were young adults ranging from their late-teens to mid-twenties. It's not really a generational thing though: callous, casual cruelty rears its ugly head in every century, whether it's the Roman Coliseum, Jack the Ripper or Kitty Genovese. I just expect better in 21st century San Francisco. Regardless of place or time, those who laughed as Dylan died clearly have no manners, no shame, no decency, and perhaps no capacity for compassion.

And I really can’t help but wonder, what in the world made them that way? Did they suffer horrific, unspeakable physical abuse and psychological torture as children? Or are they just unbelievable assholes? Either way, what's their excuse? And does their vile brutality and lack of empathy indicate that, ultimately, humankind has no future?

The Killing Joke

Years ago, when I was newly vegan, I spent many a Friday night with other activists on the sidewalk outside of the Metreon multiplex in downtown San Francisco handing out “Why Vegan?” booklets while showing “Meet Your Meat” and other factory farming videos on a battery-powered TV/VCR. Most people would walk by without acknowledging my offer of a booklet and deliberately avoid looking at the TV images. Some would stop and watch for awhile, and maybe take a leaflet, or even cry and thank us for being there, putting a little money in our donation jar.

And a few – always young men – would make a big show of laughing out loud as animals were slaughtered onscreen. Similarly, when I co-hosted “Vegan TV” on the SF community access station, we’d sometimes get calls from Beavis and Butthead types calling us faggots, pussies or whatever because we refused to eat meat.

In those days, such things rarely phased me, because I had an explanation. I figured these young guys joked about animal cruelty and those who repudiated it because admitting to anyone (especially their male peers) that they had feelings about anything (or anyone) left them vulnerable to ridicule, rejection and being branded “gay” – so laughing at others’ pain was their way of acting tough.

Hey, I was involuntarily subjected to junior high school too, and remember what a powerful force peer pressure was at that age, and how often I conformed to others’ rigid and distorted definitions of manhood simply because I lacked a strong self-identity and the courage to be myself. So, armed with this analysis, I deduced that the boys’ humorous reaction to slaughter footage was both a result of nervous laughter and a way for them to impress their friends. It seemed rather pathetic, but understandable: because in a way I’d been in their shoes before.

But now, after years of practicing animal rights advocacy and discovering denial firmly entrenched in every stratum of society, I no longer find such simplistic explanations of casual cruelty satisfactory. Mainly because even most so-called “mature adults” never really grow up when it comes to fundamentally respecting non-human species. Many don't even respect fellow human beings.

Even as I write, and even as you read, somewhere in the world animals are being tortured for people’s amusement in circuses, rodeos, horse races, game reserves, dog fighting rings, and other “entertainments” that by all rights should have been abolished along with human slavery long ago. But there's also still human slavery, war, starvation, terrorism, and torture going on this minute as well. There are millions of poor, homeless children right here in prosperous America. In one way at least, my experience today only served to reinforce my grave doubts about the true nature of our species — that humankind, as a whole, is stubbornly numb to the sufferings of others, whether or not we are directly responsible for their misery.

Then again, in my despair, there’s a whole other side to this story that I’ve neglected to tell. That is, of the hundreds of people who today saw a man fall to his doom, most did not laugh or cheer: they cried openly in the arms of loved ones, or sought emotional solace from a stranger, or stood silently awestruck alone contemplating the inconceivable. If not so distressed by the relative minority whose heartless behavior I found so nauseating, I might have stuck around awhile longer to grieve with those whose humanity seemingly remained intact, and perhaps found my faith in people restored. Instead, numbed to the core of my being, I rode on, and decided hours later to share my thoughts here in this public journal.

I guess it just goes to show that every life experience presents both challenges to and opportunities for growth, and what we choose to make of them is often largely up to us. Meaning, in the course of our Earthly journey, we always need to beware of mistaking one small aspect of reality for the whole truth.

If you are feeling suicidal, please call a suicide hotline and get the help you need!

62 comments:

  1. Anonymous11:00 PM

    My Fiance and I also witness the tragedy this afternoon. My FIance step pretty much right where the young man landed before it happened and all of a sudden a police officer yelled at him to get out of the way. He then looked up and saw the man standing on the ledge. He then jumped and my fiance was very close to where he landed. I was on the phone with him at the time from inside Forever 21 and heard the body hit the ground. Loosing my fiance on the phone at that moment and not knowing what was going on, I looked out the window and I saw the man lying on the pavement and knew right away what had happened. The both of us were very upset, sad and shook up by the what we had just witnessed. We were also disgusted with what we heard people saying in the crowd. We wished that someone had made it upstairs to try and talk to the man but it seemed no one did. Today was a very sad day and I"m ashamed of the city I have moved to from Chicago. People encouraging another human being to kill themselves is barbaric and inhuman. Basically, I felt like I was surrounded by a bunch of animals.

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  2. I was there... you should read this... http://i46.tinypic.com/1h2yrb.jpg
    Powell and Market suicide

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  3. Anonymous11:19 PM

    I was there also. It was really upsetting to see people taking photos of while he was standing on the ledge, but even more disturbing when they were taking photos of the body. Some people have no respect. I couldn't believe what I saw today, it was so horrible and tragic. I was also very sad and distraught about the whole thing. When it happened I was so close by and I watched him jump from the ledge and hit the ground. I was so shocked. I cannot get it out of my head, I continue to see it over and over again in my head (him jumping off). After all this, I have to say, it's something that has highly effected me since it was my first time seeing someone die and what's worse is that it was a suicide, you don't see those everyday.

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  4. i was there too. here is a picture of the event:(
    http://i46.tinypic.com/1h2yrb.jpg

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  5. Anonymous11:42 PM

    wow I can't believe people make a joke of it, death and suicide is nothing to laugh or joke about

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  6. Anonymous12:58 AM

    However improbable this sounds, today was actually the 2nd time I've seen someone jump to their death. First time I saw it happen, I was quite upset at the tragedy or failure of this strangers' life. Second time, today, I was upset by the strangers still living. We can try, but a perfect society will forever by dragged down by the mob/pack mind. We will never escape from these people, they will haunt our lives until the end of civilization.

    Three years ago, in Nevada, nobody took out their cell phones and cameras to take their pound of flesh from the deceased. People barely spoke.

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  7. rfkolbe1:57 AM

    I was walking through the area just as the police were putting a yellow covering on the man.

    I asked someone what happened and a kid told me the man had jumped from a window.

    I asked someone else if they saw what happened and with a big smile the man said: Yes! I asked him if he thought it was funny and he got kind of quiet and gave me a weird look. I was almost in tears and I didn't even see it happen.

    I guess I have to get out of town for a while. Get some feelings back.

    People should have been screaming and crying their eyes out.

    We are not a healthy populace. We have a national illness that seems to take pleasure from other's misfortunes.

    Sorry to go on --- just got going.

    Sad to see this man die. I wonder if I knew him.

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  8. Anonymous5:30 AM

    I work in the Tenderloin and have seen law students taking pictures of a nearly nude woman who was clearly in distress. Is it a generational thing? Not that a nearly nude mentally ill woman is on the same level as a suicide, but this doesn't surprise me. It just disgusts me and makes me sad.

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  9. I experienced the trauma just reading about it, Mat. Life and death in every day. I'll give you a call. John

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  10. The last sentence in the first posted comment was, "Basically, I felt like I was surrounded by a bunch of animals." Just to clarify, animals would never do this. Depravity like this is pretty much the realm of human beings.

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  11. I think people have very different ways of responding to events like these, but the common thread is a feeling of helplessness. By making jokes out of it, taking pictures, laughing and telling the story to others, I'm guessing people are trying to take some control over a situation where they have none. When people feel powerless, they are afraid. And when people act from fear, there is no limit to the evil they can do.

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  12. You sound very sad and disillusioned and I am so sorry you witnessed this death - no one should see something like that. Let me tell you what I saw yesterday.

    I was in line at the post office behind a young woman, probably 21 or so with a HUGE package - she couldn't even lift it, she was pushing it on the ground. When the postal worker walked around to help her, he said, "what's in here?" She said, "shampoo, soap, towels, shoes, socks and granola bars." He asked, "where is it going?" "Haiti" she replied. The gentleman behind me called out, "you are sending all that to Haiti?" "Yes," she said, "me and my roommates pooled our money and we are sending it to a church we made contact with." The gentleman behind me said, "can I help pay postage?" Pretty soon, the whole line handed over ones', fives' and ten dollar bills to help this girl pay the postage.

    My point is this and one I'm sure you know but may need to hear again right now. People are inherently good and kind. We want to help one another, we want to take care of each other. There are good people out there like this girl and her package and the gentleman and his crumpled five dollar bill. Good people like you, who advocate for animals and feel compelled to write a blog when you see injustice and sorrow.

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  13. Anonymous9:44 AM

    Matt, I am so sorry you had to witness such an experience. My heart goes out to you.
    It is shocking to read the story and the reaction from people. It has saddened me so much, that tears keep rolling down my face. I feel the pain for all and especially the ones who witnessed it because for some reason they are repressing it and eventually it will affect them in one way or another.
    The reactions are not surprising. In my daily life I deal with people up to the age of 96 who are that way. It has constantly made me wonder why people are so desensitized, disconnected, self-centered. The only thing that comes to mind is that our society as a whole has lost touch with humanity. Not that this is an excuse, but we have to remember that all we can be is compassionate towards them and be the right example, and hopefully those people will learn from us. I send love to all of you.

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  14. Anonymous2:58 PM

    I was there to experience this terrible event. This was my first time to the city and will always have this memory. It is terribly sad that nobody could stop or help him. I am not sure i agree with the desensitization of humanity. I believe people do not know how to handle something as tramatic as suscide. The weak and unsure cover up their emotions with attempts at humor or ignorant comments. I am sure (or hope)they regret it now. May God forgive that poor mans soul and accept him into Heaven. God bless.

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  15. I was there too and these people are animals! I am outraged! LOOK AT THIS!
    http://i46.tinypic.com/1h2yrb.jpg

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  16. it looks barbaric but read the comments...
    http://tweetphoto.com/11656112

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  17. This just makes me feel awful.

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  18. So tragic, so sad. People just make me sick.

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  19. Anonymous4:32 PM

    Just found out about this. The man, Dylan was a former coworker of mine. Very very sweet man.
    My heart is breaking.

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  20. I also knew and worked with Dylan. He was a great guy and I always enjoyed our discussions. I hadn't talked with him since he left our office a few years back so it's tragic to find out in this way that he needed help. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.

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  21. Dylan was a good guy. Smart, curious, intelligent, with a dry sense of humor. I had worked with him years ago. The funniest story I remember of Dyl happened in SF during an important sales kick-off meeting in Fort Mason. In a hanger room of over 200 ATT sales folks, the vice-president big-wig speaks at the podium and draws everyone's attention. About 5 minutes into his speech, a whirring sound of a motor starts a projector screen to come down slowly as "Dan" spoke. Dan looks puzzled,turns around and like everyone wonders, where is this sound coming from and who started the projector drop? A few of us look to the back of the hall and see Dylan leaning on the wall turning around, only to notice he had accidentally started the projector because he leaned on the switch. He quickly hits the button again and reverses the projector drop and turns around as if nothing happened. It was one of the hardest times I had trying to maintain my composure as I sat near the from of the room! Classic moment. Going to miss you pal, rest in peace.

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  22. "We may well wonder what caused this man* to end his own life. I don’t know his reasons, but maybe it had something with being tired of living in a world where things like this happen?"

    I couldn't agree with you more. I'm completely shaken to the core.

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  23. This is truly a tragedy.

    As a tangent, in what way are game reserves cruel? If I were, say, a cape buffalo I would rather be shot than chased down and eaten alive by a lion. Likewise, if I were a bird I would rather be shot than eaten by a fox or bird of prey. I've heard of some game reserves being used to fund corrupt governments (ie the elephant hunt in Zimbabwe giving Robert Mugabe a bajillion dollars each year), but is this a fault of the game reserves themselves or an abuse of their application?

    Maybe there's something I'm missing here.

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  24. David, according to a Fund For Animals report on canned hunts (http://www.hsus.org/wildlife/stop_canned_hunts/canned_hunts_unfair_at_any_price/) "In some cases animals may be shot in cages or within fenced enclosures; in others they may be shot over feeding stations; some of the animals are tame and have little fear of humans, while others may be tied to a stake or drugged before they are shot. But whatever method is used, the defining characteristic of a canned hunt is that the odds have been artificially manipulated against the animal so heavily that the notion of fair chase is subverted."

    Also, to suggest that hunters shoot animals out of compassion - to save them from an ostensibly worse death - is just a rationalization for cruelty. Yet people often use this same argument to justify society's torture of animals across the spectrum. They say if we didn't eat animals, they'd starve to death. They argue that even though elephants in circuses are beaten and chained, at least they have reliable food and shelter - unlike those supposedly miserable creatures forced to live with their families in their natural habitats. The fur industry has even claimed that foxes and mink are better off living in cages waiting to be skinned than out in the winter cold potentially vulnerable to predators.

    The animals living in game reserves are often born there and bred specifically as hunting trophies. If hunters are trying to prove how brave they are by hunting big game, how can they be the least bit proud of having killed an animal that couldn't escape or defend him/herself? In the wild, on the other hand, predators target the old, the sick and the weak, so healthy animals have a good chance of surviving into maturity. Meanwhile, hunters in the wild reverse this natural order by trying to bag the most impressive specimens.

    Some animals are obligate carnivores who need to eat flesh to survive. We humans can live healthily without eating anything that comes from animals, meaning we don't need to kill them for food - or sport. We don't need to stuff their heads and hang them on our walls, or turn their hides into rugs. Killing defenseless animals doesn't prove someone's toughness - only their capacity for inflicting pain and death on innocents. Killing for amusement or ego is cruelty in its purest form.

    If you can truly imagine what it's like to be a cape buffalo, a bird, or any other animal, would you not think it cruel that people come to your home every day shooting at the inhabitants? Such a world seems like a nightmare to me, and the fact that animals in the wild are subject to predation makes it no less terrifying.

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  25. Mat, thanks for the link.

    I'm not sure that I agree with the conflation of all game reserves are "canned hunts," which are about as sporting as going to the supermarket. Even the article you linked to admits that canned hunts "violate the generally accepted standards of the hunting community, which are based on the concept of 'fair chase.'" So perhaps there are game reserves that are established by more mainstream hunters that are more interested in actually reserving the habitat for the animals.

    If I buy 40 acres of land and plant a bunch of oak trees in it so that deer can eat the acorns, and then hunt 1 or 2 deer every year for food and not sport, does that make me a bad person?

    I became a vegan because factory farming is pure evil. To be honest, I don't feel that bad about hunting. If it's done right, shooting an animal isn't that painful. I'm a medical student, and in the emergency room lots of people don't even find out that they're shot until they notice blood on their clothes. A properly shot animal won't cry out, run, or do anything indicating pain. They stand still for a moment and then fall over.

    The way I see it is that my wife isn't vegan and our kids might not be. If they're going to eat meat, I would much rather they eat meat that was killed quickly and painlessly rather than factory-farmed animals that never had a moment of their lives free of suffering.

    I don't want to have an internet fight with you, but I hope we can discuss this further.

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  26. David,

    Actually, my bad - I thought I'd written "canned hunts" in the post but in fact said "game reserves" (and there is a qualitative difference). Also, I appreciate your desire to have a respectful dialogue about this issue (rather than an argument), and I’m glad we agree on the most crucial point: factory farming is an unconscionable abomination.

    In that context, my own opinions about hunting aren't particularly important. I mean, I’m personally against hunting and do not partake in it based on animal rights philosophy (i.e., shooting animals is generally not in their best interests), but if people are definitely going to eat meat anyway and choosing between hunting & factory farming, you’re absolutely right that hunting is considerably less hurtful to animals. Certainly in terms of practicality (i.e., preventing the most suffering & saving the greatest number of lives), refusing to support factory farming in whatever form constitutes by far the greatest good one can do for animals because the number killed in slaughterhouses every year vastly outweighs all the animals used for every other purpose combined.

    A friend of mine told me about attending a reading by Jonathan Saffron Foer, author of the book “Eating Animals” (www.eatinganimals.com/site/book) a few months back. According to her account, an audience member asked Foer his opinion about hunting, and he replied it really wasn't worth spending time talking about given the relatively minuscule number of animals killed by hunters' guns compared to the billions who die in factory farms. And that's basically how I feel these days, too - I'd really like to focus much more (perhaps almost exclusively) on industrialized factory farming because that’s the core animal issue our society faces. Yet I understand that your question is actually about factory farming (vs. hunting), so to address that, as an animal rights activist I admit to feeling personally uncomfortable encouraging anyone to choose the lesser of two evils, even though I recognize that many people just aren’t ready to go vegan and doing so could reduce animal suffering. On the other hand, that seems rather arbitrary, because I have actively supported animal welfare legislation (http://www.animalrighter.org/Taking_the_Initiative.html), arguably another lesser evil (compared to abolition). Also, the #1 reason most people give for eating animal products is convenience - they’re ubiquitous, and consumption requires little effort - yet many more people are reducing their meat intake than eliminating it. Considering that in terms of your question, however, most meat eaters might see shooting, skinning & butchering animals for food as too “inconvenient” for their tastes.

    Most people who know what factory farming is oppose it, so it is an issue that could galvanize a mass-movement to ultimately end an inconceivable amount of cruelty (and lead to greater respect for animals in other areas). Even many traditional farmers want to raise animals the old fashioned way, but find it hard to compete with taxpayer-subsidized factory farms owned by mega-corporations that cut costs by cramming animals into ever-shrinking spaces and pumping them full of drugs. I understand that many animal advocates deeply wish to eradicate ALL forms of animal agriculture, as well as many other practices that cause animal suffering to varying degrees. But that’s NOT where society is at this historical juncture. I therefore believe that our movement would be larger & more effective if we focused our message on ending factory farming - not only to help the most animals now, but also to avoid alienating people by overwhelming them with pressure to adopt our entire worldview. That’s why I have strongly advocated for a national moratorium on the construction of factory farms (http://www.animalrighter.org/factoryfarmphaseout.html).

    (This comment was too long for the form, so see part 2 below)

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  27. Part 2:

    Vegan Outreach’s Matt Ball wrote an essay (www.veganoutreach.org/howvegan.html) that seems relevant to this discussion. Here are some excerpts:

    “Veganism is important, not as an end in itself, but as a powerful tool for opposing the horrors of factory farms and industrial slaughterhouses...This moves the discussion away from finding a definition or avoiding a certain product, and into the realm of effective advocacy. In other words, the focus isn’t so much our personal beliefs or specific choices, but rather the animals and their suffering.”

    “The animals don’t need us to be right, they need us to be effective. In other words, we don’t want to just win an argument with a meat eater, we want to open people’s hearts and minds to a more compassionate lifestyle.”

    …And from an interview (www.veganoutreach.org/articles/veganfuture.html) I did with Ball for my beautifully-illustrated VegNews article “Vegetopia: (Re)Imagining the Future of Food” (www.animalrighter.org/uploads/Vegotopia_Final.pdf):

    “Often, we think that we have to convince everyone to adopt our philosophy, politics, health regimen, worldview, etc., when we actually just need people to reduce their suffering footprint by eating fewer / no animals. For optimal impact, veganism can’t be presented as a part of some larger package - that makes it too easy to dismiss. The message must remain simple: buying meat, eggs, and dairy causes unnecessary suffering.”

    Though this comment is already too long, there's obviously much more that could be said on this subject. I’m glad we can have a respectful discussion about this issue, and not feel like we have to prove one another wrong. Being more open-minded and responsive to others' opinions is something I’m actively trying to work on in my advocacy (because I’ve admittedly failed to do so too many times), so thanks for the reminder & the opportunity! I’d be glad to continue this conversation or start others if you like.

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  28. Anonymous10:52 PM

    I was there too. and i have written the following over the past several weeks:

    The day after:

    Last night the foghorns with their gray fingers pried open my windows and crept into my sleep. They had me awake and listening, and thinking of the jumper. The details of my seeing him are strange. Basically i saw him hit the ground right as I looked out a 2nd story window and down to the sidewalk. He landed right there. I saw him land. I heard him land. He was young and pale and soft and shirtless. I watched life leave him. What I saw has me in a fist hold. Today has been strange. I left work early, sad and paralyzed. So glad to just be home again.



    The crowd gathered. People were staring up at him, many with cameras. Some were yelling, “don’t jump!” others were yelling “jump”. Some laughed when he landed.



    Golden boy, I wish they wouldn't have egged you on. I wish they wouldn't have laughed at your pain. I am sorry you had to suffer that final insult. Golden boy, I see you. And I will never forget you. Ever.



    Days later:

    I have been sad too all week about the jumper. He has haunted me, and I have cried for him. I am so hurt that he had to hear people egging him on, and I pray he didn't hear their laughter after he landed. I think of him lying there, somebody's baby, lost. Today I went to the place where it happened and I scattered rose petals there. My heart breaks for him. I hope that I can be a good witness to his pain. I hope that I can be strong for him, and grow from what happened. For now, I just hurt for him, and I cry for him in every part of my soul.



    Weeks later:

    I learned today that his name was Dylan Yount, and that he had a life, and many friends. I don’t know why he got to that ledge, and I don’t know why he did what he did, but I do know that we can never really know another person’s pain, and we should never judge their actions. I only hope that he knows wherever he is that there is at least one stranger here that didn’t laugh at his pain, and who honored him in his last moments. Someone who bears witness to them with honor and respect. I’m sorry Dylan, that you suffered so, and I will never forget you. You have changed me in ways that I cannot articulate, but for which I am grateful.


    Rest in peace, Dylan, rest in peace.

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    Replies
    1. Kathie Yount10:41 AM

      (I wish these commenting systems were more user friendly for poetry, but the sentiment is still here!)

      "To Anonymous at AnimalRighter" By Kathie Yount, suicide prevention activist

      We know so little about that fierce Mardi Gras at Forever 21 when an anonymous mob actually encouraged the man in turquoise boxers to jump off the building he had lived in for only ten days until he finally did. Such violence at the end of his gentle life has paralyzed us in a permanent and miserable purgatory of doubt, left us unable to move on from Hallidie Plaza, San Francisco, 2-16-10. We know he was unaccustomed to hate, never dwelled on problems or plunged into negative thinking. He was spiritual and good, loving and kind, and we miss his love and have been so sad, we have forgotten good manners.


      From one of the Anonymous, writing at "Witness to Suicide at Powell and Market," Mat Thomas's AnimalRighter blog, these words: "Last night the foghorns with their gray fingers pried open my windows and crept into my sleep. They had me awake and listening, thinking of the jumper. . . he was young and pale and soft and shirtless. . .what I saw has me in a fist hold. . .Golden boy, I wish they wouldn't have egged you on. . .I think of him lying there, somebody's baby. . .lost. . .and I scattered rose petals there. . .and I cry for him in every part of my soul. . .I only hope that he knows wherever he is that there is at least one stranger here that didn't laugh at his pain, and who honored him in his last moments. . .I'm sorry, Dylan, that you suffered so. . .You have changed me in ways I cannot articulate. . . ."

      Your anonymous kindness has touched us, as well, in ways we cannot articulate either. We continue to rage at ignorance, but we weep in the presence of beauty. Thank you for your words, those petals, your humanity.

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  29. Anonymous4:40 PM

    This sounds like a terrible tragedy! This story appeared on google when I typed in 'Forever 21 - San Francisco' I can't believe the inhumanity of some people in this world, it deeply saddens me to hear how people could have so little respect for somebody's life.
    I'm from the United Kingdom, from a very small town where everybody knows everybody. Whenever I visit London, I'm always amazed at how nobody seems to want to know each other. Where as, at home in my small valley, if someone holds a door open for you, you smile and say thank you. It's not strange if a stranger in the street compliments you etc etc. I'm always amazed when I visit any cities, how people don't want to be friendly towards eachother. I know it's not as simple as it sounds, but if everyone felt they could talk to eachother, wouldn't this world be a much better place? Perhaps it's the development of things like TVs and Laptops, that people these days just don't need contact from the outside world.
    I don't think it's right to generalise about it being a generational thing, I think the way society is changing has changed a lot about people's views and needs in the last 10 or so years, but I know most people, no matter of age or gender would be mortified by what happened to this poor man.
    Man copies other man, if perhaps more people had been there to tell the horrible people how disgusting their behaviour was, this situation could have turned out differently.

    I hope the people who jeered this man on are living with the responsibility of causing a man's death, or at least making someones last few minutes on this planet, his most worthless, undignified moments.
    It's a possibility the man had picked a public location to commit suicide, knowing that there would be people below, hoping that they could perhaps convince him he shouldn't jump. Sadly we/he will never know.

    I'm very sorry to hear of the loss.

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  30. Although we attended the same school I was not a close friend of his. His mother's heart is full of sorrow due to this loss of her only child. He was a decent human being, and I cannot imagine the pain his family and close friends feel still after all these months. Although I have my non-PC moments I am terribly ashamed of the people and police who stood by and let such a tragedy happen... Only God and Dylan know the truth behind what triggered this...

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  31. Kathie Yount9:43 AM

    "Secret Shame" By Kathie Yount, suicide prevention activist

    Why the position of the man lodged on his fragile ledge between stone gods
    at Hallidie Plaza in San Francisco on 2-16-10
    triggered so much invidious hatred from those below
    and how that tableau of human despair
    set in motion such deliberate baiting: "Come on, you can dddoooo it!"
    belong to speculation.

    And this, "I wonder whether those callous cajolers and jokers have since felt any remorse for their actions ---- perhaps waking panic-stricken in the dark of night shuddering with secret shame," writes Mat Thomas at all-creatures.org's "Witness to Suicide in San Francisco" similar to his blog "Witness to Suicide at Powell and Market" at AnimalRighter.

    Yet no documented remorse can be found, Mat, for those who cheered him on to his barbaric death, even as permanent panic still glues those who love him to the black night. We shudder because he was cheered to die and cheered as he pitifully lay dying. Unknown, he never gave any there a reason to hate him; they brought their own, hate not being an external emotion.

    "On the other hand," Mat concludes, "it's worth nothing that, of the hundreds of people who watched this man die, most did not laugh, but rather cried openly in the arms of loved ones, or sought emotional solace from strangers, or stood silently awestruck alone contemplating the inconceivable. So perhaps not all hope for the world is lost."

    But for the man who died,
    all hope for the world WAS lost.
    He left living forever after what he saw and heard.
    That is the shame.

    Secret shame? Of course.
    But remorse from those who serve hate?
    THAT is the holy grail of the optimistic.

    ReplyDelete
  32. "Philippic for The San Francisco Fallen Angel of Suicide Prevention"
    By Kathie Yount,
    suicide prevention activist
    is on "Suicide at Forever 21," Flickr Photo Sharing, Michael Bolger

    http://wwwflickr.com/photos/theoutersunset/4408976881/

    ReplyDelete
  33. I knew this mans mother and it has torn her to bits. Not to say shes my favorite person in the world but my heart goes out to her. Here she is helpless and alone but she is still fighting for her son, and that is a love and loss none of us will ever know. Kathy yount i am terribly sorry for the pain and betrayal of our sad excuse of humanity.
    Peace and love,
    Former student.

    ReplyDelete
  34. "Suicide Baiting Crowd - Victim" is posted this morning at The Invisible Gardener at
    http://exploringphilosophy.wordpress.com/2013/01/07/suicide-baiting-victim/

    ReplyDelete
  35. Dylan Yount was bullied to death in Hallidie Plaza, San Francisco, on 2-16-10, the second day of the 2010 National Random Acts of Kindness Week. Tomorrow will be the third anniversary of his suicide baiting death, the sixth day of the 2013 Random Acts of Kindness Week. Please support suicide baiting prevention at https://www.facebook.com/SuicideBaitingCrowdPrevention?ref=ts

    ReplyDelete
  36. "For SF WEEKLY's Albert Samaha"
    1-29-13
    By Kathie Yount,
    suicide baiting prevention activist
    is posted at
    https://www.facebook.com/SuicideBaitingCrowdPrevention?ref=ts

    ReplyDelete
  37. "Suicide Baiting --- they cheered while my son jumped" can be found at iPinion Syndicate at http://ipinionsyndicate.com/suicide-baiting-they-cheered-while-my-son-jumped/

    ReplyDelete
  38. Suicide Baiting is against the law. Suicide Baiting is completely preventable. We are working to raise awareness about suicide baiting and to eradicate the abomination forever. No one else should ever have to die like Dylan Yount did on 2-16-10 in Hallidie Plaza, San Francisco. Please show your support at Suicide Baiting Prevention at https://www.facebook.com/SuicideBaitingCrowdPrevention?ref=ts
    Although the comment program disallows a URL address, keying our title will open our page.

    ReplyDelete
  39. My poem, "If Dylan had been a pit bull," is published at iPinion Syndicate at
    http://ipinionsyndicate.com/if-dylan-had-been-a-pit-bull

    ReplyDelete
  40. Five new columns have been added at iPinion Syndicate:
    "Still expecting truth, justice, and the American way" by Kathie Yount
    "What have we become when suicide becomes entertainment?" by Debra DeAngelo
    "Suicide Baiting is a bad writing prompt" by Kathie Yount
    "What do you call 100 lawyers tied at the bottom of the ocean?" by Kathie Yount
    "Judge's stand on suicide baiting: Let them jump" by Kathie Yount
    At Thinking About Suicide:
    "The Crime of Suicide Baiting" by Laurie W. Sargent

    ReplyDelete
  41. Hi, Matt. I still enjoy your blog, and I am still very grateful for the post you made following Dylan's death. I will never regret reaching out to you in my pain, and I will always remember YOUR reaching back to me with such compassion.

    SO, it is quite ironic but I find myself reposting the comic that TOPTOM placed in your comments, 3 years, 175 days ago, but with a twist.

    My newest column, "A comic strip testimony of suicide baiting," posted at iPinion Syndicate contains the comic's URL link. My column attempts to show the societal cost that suicide baiting brings. Readers can decide for themselves whether they wish to open the comic with the at the bottom of the page. My column is at http://ipinionsyndicate.com/a-comic-strip-testimony-of-suicide-baiting/

    I also want to tell you how much I admire you. While both Dylan and I loved animals, we could never adopt the vegan lifestyle. I often told my students that if a chicken and I were locked inside a room with no food, I would probably starve. Yet, I am a total hypocrite, a meat eater. The shiny packages we purchase in our supermarkets cannot disguise the sad truth, though. Even though consumers do not participate directly in the meat industry, we do know what happens there. Recently, I saw researchers trying to create meat in a laboratory from the stem cells of cows, and I thought of you.

    I hope many blessings continue to happen for you in your journey. Much love, Kathie Yount, Dylan's mom

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kathie,

      I seriously can't imagine the grief you've suffered as a result of Dylan's suicide, but I'm gratified to know that my writing has helped you get through it in some way. And especially that it hasn't, in contrast, hurt you -- as other people's comments, comics, and legal decisions clearly have.

      I just read your column, and was again moved by your struggle to seek some resolution for this travesty of justice. I have too much to say about it to fit into a mere blog comment, so I'll have to write another actual blog post about it. Note that I haven't written in this blog for awhile because I'm always busy just trying to make a living as a freelance marketing writer -- and there's always about 100 times more work to do than I can actually get done.

      It so happens that my good friend Matt Coleman was murdered just over two years ago today (http://animalrighter.blogspot.com/2011/08/to-murderers-of-my-friend-matt-coleman.html). So that's on my mind as well. His and Dylan's death, in my mind, are interconnected. Along with a whole lot of other stuff from the larger world. So please be patient with me as I respond with something more substantial in the near future.

      Delete
  42. I look forward to it, Mat. So sorry about your friend Matt Coleman. It is odd that I also connect his death to Dylan's as well when I think of you. Much love, Kathie

    ReplyDelete
  43. Hey, Mat. This is the newest: "Suicide Baiting is hate crime" at http:ipinionsyndicate.com/suicide-baiting-is-hate-crime/

    ReplyDelete
  44. Hope you don't mind, Mat, but I referenced you in my newest column at iPIon Syndicate, "Suicide baiting: no kindness in the Age of Anonymous Cruelty" at http://ipinionsyndicate.com/suicide-baiting-no-kindness-in-the-age-of-anonymous-cruelty/

    ReplyDelete
  45. "When police do not protect: a 2010 suicide baiting in San Francisco" is posted at http://ipinionsyndicate.com/paradigm-shift-in-police-protection-a-2010-suicide-baiting-in-san-francisco/

    ReplyDelete
  46. "Dear Kelly McBride: Suicide baiting does lead to suicide" is posted at http://ipinionsyndicate.com/dear-kelly-mcbride-suicide-baiting-does-lead-to-suicide/

    ReplyDelete
  47. "SFPD message to 2010 suicide baiting crowd: Your target deserves to be hurt" is posted at http://ipinionsyndicate.com/sfpd-message-to-2010-suicide-baiting-crowd-your-target-deserves-to-be-hurt/

    ReplyDelete
  48. "Will San Francisco become the first city to uphold suicide baiting?" Is posted at http://ipinionsyndicate.com/will-san-francisco-become-the-first-city-to-uphold-suicide-baiting/

    ReplyDelete
  49. Hi, Mat. I see your name from time to time on petition sites we both sign. We have a trial date set to begin July 28, 2014! I am hopeful to meet you in person at that time! My 17th column at iPinion Syndicate is "The SFPD: Still fighting the art of de-escalation" at http://ipinionsyndicate.com/the-sfpd-still-fighting-the-art-of-de-escalation/

    ReplyDelete
  50. My 18th column was posted at iPinion Syndicate. "SFPD takes four years to prepare defense for 2010 suicide baiting" at https://ipinionsyndicate.com/sfpd-takes-four-years-to-prepare-defense-for-2010-suicide-baiting/

    ReplyDelete
  51. Our trial start date has been changed to August 25, 2014. Two new columns: "SFPD reinforces mental illness stigma in Hallidie Plaza suicide baiting at http://ipinionsyndicate.com/sfpd-reinforces-suicide-baiting-in-hallidie-plaza-suicide-baiting/
    And ""Suicide baiting now legal in Minnesota" at http://ipinionsyndicate.com/suicide-baiting-now-legal-in-minnesota/

    ReplyDelete
  52. What happened in San Francisco at the suicide baiting death of Dylan Yount is NOT a free speech right. It is an exploitation of the suicidally depressed. Two important columns are "Suicide baiting now legal in Minnesota" at http://ipinionsyndicate.com/suicide-baiting-now-legal-in-minnesota/
    and "Minnesota Supreme Court turns its back on mentally ill" at
    http://ipinionsyndicate.com/minnesota-supreme-court-to-suicide-predators-party-on/

    ReplyDelete
  53. I am anxious about the August trial in San Francisco, especially after what happened in Minnesota, the most shocking decision ever made in all of American First Amendment history at http://ipinionsyndicate.com/minnesota-vs-william-melchert-dinkel-empowering-the-monsters-of-internet-suicide-baiting/

    ReplyDelete
  54. We have lost our bid for a jury trial in Superior Court and are taking our case to the First District Court of Appeals in San Francisco. Two new columns explain where we are in the litigation process. "Superior Court and SFPD label felons 'hecklers'" at http://ipinionsyndicate.com/superior-court-and-sfpd-label-felons-hecklers/
    and "Law and the semantics of suicide baiting in San Francisco" at http://ipinionsyndicate.com/law-and-the-semantics-of-suicide-baiting-in-san-francisco/

    ReplyDelete
  55. I understand why more and more Americans are distrustful of our judges and police, especially when courts ENABLE bad policing. "Do San Francisco police really have no duty to enforce laws or make arrests?" at http://ipinionsyndicate.com/do-san-francisco-police-really-have-no-duty-to-enforce-laws-or-make-arrests/

    ReplyDelete
  56. My newest column, the 26th is posted at iPinion Syndicate. You can google it by title or go to the iPinion Syndicate site under "suicide baiting." "Play is relative: Cat baseball in Missouri and Rome in San Francisco" at http://ipinionsyndicate.com/play-is-relative-cat-baseball-in-missouri-and-rome-in-san-francisco/

    ReplyDelete
  57. "Send in the clowns: Calling the San Francisco police," my 28th column is posted at http://ipinionsyndicate.com/send-in-the-clowns-calling-the-san-francisco-police/

    I am not giving up, Mat, and although I did not start out with your writing skills, I am beginning to feel more articulate at last as a speaker against suicide baiting. I think I have finally nailed the columnist's goal!

    ReplyDelete
  58. Hello, Mat. Oral Arguments in "Kathy Yount et al v. City and County of San Francisco et al" will be heard August 20, 2015, in the First District Court of Appeal, 350 McAllister Street, San Francisco regarding the 2-16-10 suicide baiting death of Dylan Yount at the Forever 21 building in Hallidie Plaza, Powell and Market Streets, San Francisco. At this time, no room designation has been announced.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Oral Arguments in "Yount v. CCSF" will now start at 10:00 a.m. August 20, 2015. The arguments will still be heard in the Supreme Court building at 350 McAllister which also houses the First District Court of Appeal courtrooms in the same location. Presiding Justice Barbara J.R. Jones and Associate Justices Henry Needham, Jr. and Terence Bruiniers will decide what happens next in the case about the 2-16-10 suicide baiting death of Dylan Yount in Hallidie Plaza, San Francisco.

    ReplyDelete
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