After she had taken her own life by jumping from the George Washington Bridge, a message appeared on Rachel Bryk’s Twitter account. It had been scheduled to post eight hours after her death and it read:
“Guess i am dead. Killed myself. Sorry.”
But what led this transgender game developer from New Jersey to take her own life at the age of 23? Her family said it was a combination of the severe pain she suffered from neurological disorders–fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis–and the constant online bullying of unseen people who wished her only sorrow.
Turned down for Social Security disability benefits just last year, Bryk’s online posts and other written notes discovered after her death show how distraught she had become. And even though authorities haven’t yet conclusively identified the body they found in the water under the bridge, her parents say they know it is Rachel. Her father, Roger Bryk tearfully says:
“The waiting is the hardest part.”
Rachel’s mother, Lisa Bryk, also suffers from fibromyalgia, and says she understands only too well the physical pain her daughter had to endure:
“It’s just a struggle every day to live like that, in chronic pain. People think you look fine on the outside and that if you just tried harder, things would be OK. And that’s not the case. People said that to her and it just made her feel more hopeless.”
When she was able to work, Bryk was a respected game developer and active in the online community surrounding Dolphin emulator software, which allows users to play Nintendo video games on their computers.
But being online was both a blessing and a curse, as Rachel’s online postings show. In one, she writes:
“There’s not constant transphobia on reddit any time i post, or someone mentions me, like there is here. The rest of you don’t have to worry though, i’m gonna kill myself soon enough and you won’t have to be bothered by me anymore.”
The response to her posting? She was told:
“DO IT, if you’re such a weak willed thin skinned dip—- then f— do it.”
Another simply said:
Witnesses report seeing a young woman climb the railing of the bridge and jump. All that remained of Rachel Bryk was her shoes, which she had taken off and left on the sidewalk.
This article was originally published by the same author at LiberalAmerica.org.