Trigger Warning: Transphobia and Suicide
As many of you may already know, both the LGBT and gaming communities are mourning the passing of Rachel Bryk. Bryk was a 23 year old programmer who committed suicide last Thursday after she decided to jump from the George Washington Bridge. Bryk suffered from depression and rheumatoid arthritis, and was often in constant physical pain. What prompted this young woman’s suicide isn’t totally clear, however many believe that Bryk was pushed over the edge from consistent cyberbullying. Bryk identified as a transgender woman and was open about her gender identity on many online forums. 4chan, a popular forum site (similar to Reddit), was one the places Bryk would frequent to keep close ties to the gaming community. On the site she was harassed and encouraged by many of the users to commit suicide. Eventually she gave in. A scheduled tweet came out last Friday at midnight.
Bryk worked for a software company called Dolphin, and emulated games from the Nintendo GameCube and Wii era compatible in HD for PCs. Many people admired Bryk for how dedicated she was to her work. She also specialized in developing Tool Assisted Speedrun programs (TAS) for the type of gamers who’s goals are to attempt to finish a game as quickly as possible in hopes of setting new records- with accurate and officially recognized playtimes. Her favorite game was Pucca’s Kisses, and you can see here Bryk testing out one of her TASs on the game below:
Bryk did a lot for the gaming community, but some online members had issues with the programmer discussing her gender identity and depression openly. She often spoke about how unhappy she was with total strangers, and said she wanted to end her life. Many of the online users would direct comments to her such as:
“Passable or not, never stick your d**k in a tr***y. It’s disgusting” and “Calling ‘it’ a ‘she’ is the first lie. Trannies have a 50% suicide rate. Maybe if they actually attempted to deal with their problems and not chop body parts off…get mental help, fucking ret**ds”.
Even after her death, 4chan users still continue to make fun of her. Some even go as far as mockingly pretend to be her:
Rachel Bryk’s story has a heartbreaking ending. We never know just how powerful an impact our words can have on one another. I don’t know exactly what the appropriate solution would have been for Bryk’s struggle, but I do know we cannot allow the LGBT community to fall into states of depression while groups of online trolls cheer people on to end their lives. It’s appalling and we must do better for each other. It is important to be mindfully compassionate towards others since we may not know exactly what is going on internally for them. People who appear frustrated and withdrawn may not have the strength to reach out to others in their time of need. Likewise we must also try our best to reach out to others in our own time of need. By carrying Rachel’s story with us we can make a stronger effort to make our world a safer and kinder place. Please take some time to ask how a loved one is feeling today.
If you’re thinking about suicide or know someone else who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.