A broken heart for the social media community

My friend Trey Pennington, one of the most popular figures on the social web, committed suicide today.

I have been trying to figure out how to deal with this tragedy.  I’ve been pushing it down, pushing it down.  I want it to go away.  But I decided that not writing something would be cowardly and a disservice to a man who has helped me and so many people around the world.

Trey was one of my first mentors on the social web and I tell part of our story in my book The Tao Of Twitter … I also use his story of generous networking support as a best-practice case study in many of my college classes.

I had the pleasure of meeting him in real life several times over the years and we had some really great times together.  I began to get closer to him as he planned to be a keynote speaker at Social Slam, an event I curated and hosted earlier this year.  I didn’t know Trey as well many of his long-time friends, but he felt comfortable enough with our relationship that he visited me again this summer and confided in me some of the deep troubles that I can only assume led to this tragedy.  I promised him that I would be available to him, whenever he needed me. Based on the outpouring of emotion on his Facebook page, there were a ton of people who had made the same offer.  And you know, we meant it.  In the ensuing months, I called him and sent him emails, letting him know I was still there, I was there, I was there.

A few weeks after we met, Trey tried to commit suicide and was hospitalized. He seemed to come out of it OK and he approached his work with an air of confidence, at least through his public persona.  I tried to stay connected with him and when I heard back from him, he assured me that he was on his way back, although he still had some serious, and growing, problems to overcome.

To view his Facebook and Twitter updates, you would think he was fine. He was proud of his speaking career, appreciative of his friends, seemingly excited about an upcoming trip to Europe.

In recent months, I thought it was a little strange he posted photos of himself so often. In a car. In a bus. At a coffee shop. Hauntingly, in front of the bridge that was the site of his first suicide attempt. He said he was losing weight.  But these photos were sending another message.  In reality, he was telling us that he was literally fading away before our eyes.

Trey was simply one of the nicest and most generous people on the planet.  Even when the chemicals in his brain were relentlessly pushing him into overwhelming depression he was thinking of others. They say that suicide is a selfish decision. It doesn’t make sense.  It’s totally confusing. Trey? Selfish? No.

Some of his last Facebook posts and tweets didn’t make sense either. They were not messages from a man about to kill himself, were they?  An hour before he died, he “liked” Jay Baer’s Facebook update about going to a rock concert.  Why wasn’t he asking somebody for help???

Trey is the second person I have known to end his own life.  In both cases, they were literally the most unlikely people ever to do this. You just shake your head and think … No way. No freaking way.

So many questions that will never be answered. So much pain. I’m angry that the chemicals won. That they wouldn’t let him alone long enough to get one moment of clarity … to be able to see clearly enough to consider the implications for his six children. For his baby grandson. He was so proud of that baby.  For the hundreds of people he touched in his community and the thousands of people around who are in shock and are in mourning today. These are people who sincerely loved him and would have been on his doorstep in a heartbeat.  All he had to do was ask.

Oh Trey.  Why?  You are so loved.

From the Suicide Survivors Support Group:

I don’t know why.
I’ll never know why.
I don’t have to know why.

All posts

  • Thank you for sharing this Mark. I didn’t know you and Trey were so close. I have been sad all day since I heard the news. 

  • Mark, thanks so much for sharing this with us. Such difficult, awful news. 

  • Mark, I didn’t know Trey as you did. But I am full of grief and sadness. My condolences to you. To his family and friends. To the community he contributed to. I am so very sad indeed.

  • Wow. So unusual, to seem so outwardly happy, and incredibly sad.

  • A kind tribute to who must be a very much missed friend. I hope you find solace in the coming days. 

  • Very sorry to read this. Thank you for the well-written tribute, but of course I wish you didn’t have to write it. 

  • Brenda Young

    Truly written with a broken heart. Sometimes people do very illogical, and yes, heartbreaking things when they are overwhelmed with the sadness that depression brings. What a wonderful friend you must have been. I am very sorry for your loss. Trey was a wonderful person.

  • Anonymous

    Mark, I live in Greenville and have attended Trey’s Social Media group here. I never would have expected this and when I saw an invitation to a memorial for him tonight on my Facebook I did a double take and couldn’t believe it was possible that he passed. When I found out how he did, it really threw me for a loop.

    When someone dies like this, we have to ask why.  And the answer will never surface for us. Whatever was driving him was powerful. It was so powerful that it made him lose sight of all the people he has touched and those that loved him. It pushed him to a desperate act that he thought would somehow ease the pain.

    All we can do is memorialize him for the person he was and hope his decision prevents others from the same fate.  He will be missed (as the social community is showing). 

    Thanks for your post.

  • Ray

    Thank you for this heartfelt testimonial that addresses the tragedy of losing someone who has shared so much with so many and the seriousness of an illness still so misunderstood and hidden.

  • Thanks for this Mark, I’ve been in confusion about this all day seeing as a few hours before his death and one of the last things he posted on his facebook page was an inspiring video I had posted of my friend.  I thought to myself “thanks for the mention of this Trey, and I appreciate all that you do my friend… let me know if I can ever help with anything, and hope you are well”… but I didn’t say that.  It’s one of the few times I didn’t respond to his mentions of my content.  I wish I had said something and reached out.  It’s a sad day.  very sad. 

  • Thank you, my friend.  I’ve been sitting at my keyboard for an hour since discovering this horrible news and my heart refuses to accept it.  Trey was probably my first Twitter acquaintance that I got to meet IRL, in Greenville; his generous spirit was most obvious and his genuine southern charm.  He was most giving and a great connector of people.  His death is a huge loss to the social media community, for all that we hoped was yet to be.  Holding onto you, Mark!

  • I’m sorry for your loss and the loss of Trey’s family and friends.  This is a stark reminder that we should be kind to every person we meet, because everyone is carrying a heavy load.  Sometimes the load gets too heavy to carry any longer.  The tragic thing about depression is that it robs one of the ability to think rationally, to seek help.  It urges one to give up.  That is sad.

  • This helps a lot. I was stunned to hear of his passing and thought at first it mustve been from and accident. It didn’t make sense that he, of all people, would decide not to see the end of the story.
    I’m glad he reached out at least. But sometimes, all the friends and loved ones in the world can’t overcome those horrible chemical imbalances in our brains.
    He was a very good man. He will be greatly missed.

  • Kay Walker

    It’s very sad that Trey’s life did not meet the conditions he had for it to continue. It’s awful for friends and family, but he obviously felt that they would be strong enough to cope. I can see why he “Liked” the friend going to the rock concert- I would wish the same to my friends in the same circumstances.   As a longterm sufferer from depression I can see quite rationally that I may do the same as Trey eventually. There are conditions for my life that are not being fulfilled and if they come to the same point as Trey’s did, I will go too. I won’t go out in the depths of depression either, as it’s impossible to make decisions in that state. Like him, I will probably go feeling a bit low, but seeing absolutely no hope of a satisfying future. He had his reasons and I know what mine will be.

  • What a terribly shocking
    revelation. Condolences and prayers to all of Trey’s family and friends.
    There were so many. My interactions with Trey were few but his impact
    was felt nonetheless. He’ll be missed.

  • Mark, I did not know Trey but what I saw as a brilliant talented generous and gentle man. One in five suffer from some sort of depression and we always want to help. If you have ever even seen the outer tinges of darkness you know it’s not easy to ask for that help. I have lost friends and colleagues and there is no why, there is no relief, there is nothing you can do but absorb an unthinkable blow that never seems to subside. 

    There is a lot of humanness going on right now and it certainly gives us pause to the things we spend our time thinking are important. We are important, our friends are important, our family is important. I can’t even think of the lesson we need to learn here save to offer help even when we’re not even sure what to do. And asking for help is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength.

    No words suffice. None.

  • Aw Mark my friend. I am so sorry. Those words never seem to be quite right, do they?

    i only got to engage with Trey a little, but as I’ve spoken of him with many today I’ve noted that he seemed omnipresent across the web, wherever I went. I never heard anyone say a bad word about him (proof you don’t need haters to be successful, perhaps). He was always on my list of people I needed to read more, people I needed to talk to more. I figured I’d get the chance eventually. 

    This news has been a heavy burden all day and I did not know Trey. For you and so many others who counted him as a real friend, I know that the feeling you have now is like a coat made of shivering. But it’s important for YOU all to know that you have people here for you, ready to listen or do whatever needs to be done (including putting the smack down on people who are disrespectful over the coming days).

    Sending healing thoughts and virtual hugs your way, dear fellow.

  • Christine B. Whittemore

    Mark, thank you for sharing this. I’m stunned and so very sad for Trey and his family. Best, CB

  • Under these circumstances, I wonder if this loved man was, simply, finished being Mark. 

  • I met Trey a few times and shared some meals with him. Even though I didn’t know him well, every time I saw him he made me feel like an old friend. He was special like that. I’m going to miss him.

  • It’s difficult for me to hear this from you, or any one.  I have experienced depression first-hand,  including my own during a bleak period that shook my life, and through one of my best friends, under my care, who eventually had to have electro-shock therapy, which was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. 

    I know this is powerful and horrible, Kay. I know sometimes there are no answers, even though people (who haven’t been there) tell you that there are. I know sometimes all the therapy and drugs in the world can’t help when you are in the grip.   I just wanted to let you know that my wife and I are praying for you tonight, Kay.   I don’t know you,  but I sincerely, deeply care for you and your suffering and pray for you to find peace in your heart and meaning in your life. 

  • Mark, I truly appreciated reading your post. Trey was a bright, shining light with a huge heart – always helping, always giving. Yet, he endured such struggles privately as you mention here. I was blessed to be connected with Trey since 2008 on Facebook and was a guest on his radio show. He was always a source of encouragement and camaraderie every time we interacted. 

    I just now re-read the email exchange I had with Trey back in January of this year. He had reached out to me for support at that time and was extremely revealing about his private troubles – his transparency took me by surprise. I stopped everything I was doing and provided as much support and guidance as I could at that time. Trey’s spirits lifted and we interacted a bit on and off over the coming months. But, still, I had no idea that his troubles would ever lead to taking his own life. So, so sad. I thought he lived his whole life just for his six children. As I looked through Trey’s last photo album, it’s as if he were intentionally making a tribute album for his family – much of his narrative appears in past tense as if he were getting ready to go.

    My heart has been heavy all day; I’ve been trying to reconcile how it can be that someone so popular, surrounded by such a huge family, and loving community could suffer from such depression. I know it’s a disease and maybe Trey had done everything in his power to conquer the disease. I truly hope he’s found the peace now that he’s been seeking for such a long time. He’s left a big hole and will be missed deeply.

  • MARK,

    Greetings from rural Australia.

    I have strong views about suicide.

    I’m always annoyed when people call suicide a selfish act.

    Expecting another person to live with demons that torment them and terrify them on a minute to minute basis is selfish.

    And not all demons can be exorcised.

    Nor is it always possible for you and me to help people who suffer from torment.

    If you’ve never walked in their shoes, how can you know what and how they’re suffering?

    And those who have tried suicide, survived and never try again are the ones lucky enough to walk out of the darkness.

    But the ones like Trey, who try, survive and stay in that dark place only to try again, well, maybe he’s the lucky one.  He’s no longer grappling with his demons.

    Those left behind are the unlucky ones.  They now have to learn to live with their sadness.

    I’m not at all religious and come from a belief where a life lived without quality is no life at all.

    And quality is subjective.  Only Trey can make that judgement about his life.  No one else.  

    To expect a person to live with torment and demons just so those close to him can escape the sadness of losing them is unjustifiable.

    Not everyone will agree with me because life is considered to be precious.  But this is a judgement made by those who don’t live their life imprisoned under a dark cloud.

    Suicide doesn’t lessen the value of a person.

    It is, in fact, a severe criticism of the medical fraternity and their inability to deal with the true causes of depression and provide sufferers with a cure which will not only improve their life, but make it worth living.

    I was born with sunshine oozing out of every pore.  And remain so every day.  I cannot fathom being asked to live my life in any way but with joy.  Which is why I can empathise so strongly with Trey.  It’s not a prison I’d like to be trapped in.

    May he now be bathed in the glow of sunshine he so desperately craved in his life.

    Best wishes and take care,


    Carol Jones
    Interface Pty Ltd
    Designers of The Fitz Like A Glove™ Ironing Board Cover

    Ironing Diva’s stories are at http://bit.ly/TheIroningDiva

  • I didn’t know him as more than a follower, but your comment, “angry that the chemicals won” rings so true in this instance, and in so many others. It’s a despair so deep that most can’t comprehend. Thank you for sharing your memories so those of us who hadn’t met him have a glimpse of the man you remember. 

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  • Depression and overwhelming hopelessness can take anyone — even when
    they have love and support from friends and family, online and offline.
    It can be overpowering.

    I don’t believe suicide is a selfish act at all. The suicidal person
    often feels like they are protecting the people in their lives by
    killing themselves. And whether or not they are even able to process the
    thought of the other people their death will impact, they are
    experiencing a powerful force and shouldn’t be blamed because they

    My heart, thoughts and prayers are with all of Trey’s family and
    friends. And I ache for the agony Trey was enduring. I didn’t know Trey
    personally – I just knew of him. But, I know the hopelessness of
    depression, and so today I feel sick knowing some of what he was
    enduring and what his children and family and friends are now facing.

  • My psychiatrist, Dr. Neil Weiner, has a saying: “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”  Please, everybody, memorize that phrase whether you think may need it someday or not.

    When it’s been years and the right medication and therapy seems impossible to find, it may be hard to see it as temporary.  For me, it took three years of intense suffering to finally find a medication (an MAOI – you know, those ones that have deadly interactions with everything) and therapy (Dialectical Behavior Therapy – 6 month intensive group program) that helped me get well.  It’s not always easy but it’s amazing to think of how hopeless I was for so long and that I didn’t believe I could get better.

    I keep in mind that if I swing down again, that I have not tried everything.  New anti-depressants hit the market every week.  I never tried the tricyclics and ECT is a legitimate option.  I know many people who have been helped greatly by ECT, but it’s rare to hear the truth because it is so stigmatized.For those that have never had them, the best way to describe suicidal thoughts is that they are these random things that pop into your head, often in no relation to what is happening in life.  It’s like having another voice in the back of your brain — or those “Bad Idea Bears” in Avenue Q — saying “You should run your car into a tree” or “That bridge looks like it’s high enough.” What? Why in the world would I want to do that? Sometimes that second voice takes hold; sometimes it’s annoying.  I can’t believe how much brain power has been freed up without those thoughts running through my head.With severe depression, everything can be going along seemingly well – surrounded by friends and family, career is hopping – but those suicidal impulses are without reason.  Somehow your brain warps reality and tells you that you would be less of a burden on loved ones if you were gone.  If you can hold onto the thought of how acutely those who love you will suffer, it will help stay your hand.Kay, please work together with a mental health provider and put a safety plan in place.  If you feel you will hurt yourself, who will you call?  Where will you go?  If you can’t imagine going to the ER, whose couch can you stay on to keep you safe?  Have you tried a DBT program?  DBT is incredibly helpful – very straightforward, skills based and looks at both how to weather a crisis and what to do daily that makes a difference.

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  • Erica Allison

    Thank you for sharing this, Mark.  I can only imagine your grief and sadness at this moment. I was fortunate to be able to briefly meet Trey at Social Slam (thanks for the opportunity!) and can say that his kindness was indeed memorable. He made me feel like he was really listening to me and I very much regret not scooting down to Greenville to meet up with him as we discussed.  

    It is so hard to reconcile in our black and white worlds why people choose to do something like this that just quite simply does not make sense.  Writing about it, I’m convinced, does help and it helps others going through this process as well.  Many will appreciate what you’ve written, and the countless other beautiful posts coming out today and yesterday and in the days to come. 
    I wish you well, Mark. Best,Erica

  • Kenny Rose

    The only thing that makes any sense  is the conflicted reality and desperation of so many people who are under constant unrelenting pressure to live in a world that is hypocritical and belligerent full of people unable to connect emotionally because our reality and relationships are constricted by constructed barbarism dressed up as humanity, democracy, morality and truth. 

    I never knew Trey. I did not read his blog. But I heard his name often and recognized he was clearly well respected and loved.  I have experienced the impact of suicide and live with the memories of someone who was dear to me and loved. None of it ever makes any sense except for the person suffering the deep depression and darkness that eventually overcomes their will to live. 

    I can only say. My heart goes out to his family and friends. So sad another beautiful soul no longer with us. 

    Respect Mark. 

    RIP Trey

  • I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing him, but would just like to add my prayers and condolences to you, his friends, and his family.  Thank you for sharing, Mark, and I hope it is a step toward healing.

  • We may never know why, but what I do know is, when a person decides to do this, there isn’t much we can do. I hope you aren’t blaming yourself, Mark. He was a great man who was loved by many of us. It’s a good reminder for us to think about what’s important in life.

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  • Having lost two family members to suicide, I know how the ‘unknowns’ can really eat at you. It is horrible to lose a friend and colleague — no matter how they pass. I don’t believe that suicide is a selfish act, but it does certainly cause an extra layer of grief for the surviving friends and family, in my opinion. 

    I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing Trey, but I will keep his family and yours in my prayers. Answers may not come, but eventually healing will. 

  • So so sad to hear this. I met Trey at a conference in Glasgow last year and we had been in touch since. He gave me some great advice for my blog and took real time to answer a number of questions for an interview. A true gent indeed. His thinking on social should go down as a must read for all interested in the channel. Thoughts go out to friends and family.

  • Mark, Thank you so much for posting this.  I am very sad and still can’t believe he is gone.  He reached out to me in the Spring to collaborate on a project, and I told him the Fall will be good timing for me.  He was one of the sweetest and kind-hearted people I’ve met. He will always be in our heart and memories.  I am very sorry for losing a wonderful and selfless person.  Please reach out if you need anything.

  • Annette

    Mark, I would first like to express my deepest and I mean deepest, condolences to you and the social media circles who knew Trey personally. Mental health illnesses (including depression) are largely misunderstood.  I would like to contribute something today: how I explain the torture that people with mental illnesses suffer. I hope it helps with understanding. Okay…..imagine your worst day, I mean your absolute WORST day or WORST moment(s) of your life. Have you ever had an anxious moment? Have you ever been hounded by fear, even if just for a few minutes or an hour? Combine these feelings (and more) and imagine experiencing it mentally, virtually non-stop. No really. Just sit there and imagine it for a minute. Imagine multiplying those feelings/emotions/mental anguish by 10 times and combine it with rarely ever getting a break from it. It never goes away (or if it does, just for fleeting moments). Now can you understand suicide, just a LITTLE better? Without help, the tortured mind seeks peace. Sadly, sometimes suicide is seen as the only solution. We need to continue to remove the stigma from mental health issues so that people who need help will feel more free in obtaining it. That is not “the” answer of course, but it is an important component. My heart goes out to Trey’s family & friends…….. 

  • Thanks for the lovely tribute, Mark. I found out about this right before going to bed and I just couldn’t sleep after reading about it. It’s just so puzzling and sad.

    I didn’t know Trey like you did. But, I felt blessed to meet him at Social Slam earlier this year. He was warm and genuine – perhaps one of the kindest people I’ve met. He was a fantastic speaker and storyteller. And, this loss definitely leaves a gaping void. Even though many people didn’t know him “IRL”, I’m confident there are legions of people who felt like they did. He was so good at making people feel like they were a friend. 

    Last week, my husband lost his mentor and friend – his boss. It was a massive heart attack (we think) that came out of nowhere. We are reeling from it. No matter how you lose someone, the loss still stings and it’s always too soon. If anything, these losses teach us to value every day and make the most of the time we have on this earth. 

  • Really, really sad to hear this. All the best to his family and friends.

  • This was really devastating for me to read. I will confess that I didn’t know Trey or really much about him until this horrible tragedy, but I also suffer from depression, and so it hit far too close to home.

    The thing that struck me most were the social landmarks you pointed out that perhaps provided clues – or elaborate distractions – to what would be his untimely demise. In social networking, we’re all leaving behind a road map to who we were: a collection of impressions that define who we want to be remembered as, logged forever on some distant IP address in the far nether regions of the Internet. I have heard that the most deeply depressed and foregone of individuals will often, converse to what logic would dictate, make plans for the future and exude happiness right before they choose to take their lives. Sadly, Trey’s story is all-too typical for a man who lead such a brilliant and extraordinary (decidedly a-typical) life.

    May he rest in peace, and may others learn from his example to seek help before it’s too late. I’m so sorry for your loss, Mark.

  • Mark,

    Thank you for taking the time to tell us about your time with Trey. Though we will never know why he made that decision, one thing is for sure he made a impact on us all. Thank you for giving me a yet an other opportunity to hear him speak in Knoxville this past yet!

  • Shirley

    Hi Mark,
    Sorry to hear you lost a friend.
    There are no answers, Mark. Take comfort in the fact that you got to meet and know the real man. 🙂 Keep well,

  • Shirley

    Hi Mark,
    Sorry to hear you lost a friend.
    There are no answers, Mark. Take comfort in the fact that you got to meet and know the real man. 🙂 Keep well,

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  • I am so sorry for your loss.  I’m sorry for the pain his family will feel, and I truly sorry that he felt there was no other option than to take his own life.

    I don’t know you or Trey, but I have your ‘fan page’ on my Facebook.  I just saw this and wanted to read about it.  

    There was a time in my life where I tried to commit suicide because I had lost all hope.  However, I was luck and received some interventions that have lasted me for over 20 years.  I told myself, “No matter how tough life gets; no matter how much pain or how hopeless things are, suicide will never again be an option for me”.  

    I’m glad I made that commitment to myself and am so sorry when anyone loses the battle against depression.  I will pray for all his friends, family and colleagues.   Sally Brown

  • Gutted.

  • Hi Mark,

    I have been active enough in social media to say tha I knew Trey’s name and not much more than that. I can’t say that I knew him or have any specific insight into why he did this.

    But I do know three people who committed suicide and none of it made sense to any of us.  I don’t think that we can be expected to recognize every cry for help or that we should beat ourselves up for missing what seems like the obvious.

    I would suggest that we try to do the best we can to let those we love know that we are always available to listen/talk and to try to let others know that we are open to helping them.

    I am very sorry for Trey’s friends and family and hope that they find some solace for their grief.

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  • It’s so sad to loose such an exceptional person as trey due to unforeseen circumstances. Although i don’t know Trey,  but there is no doubt that everyone will miss him so much including me. Though God must have known best why he has to go all of a sudden, and the reason why he left us all with doubts and questions in our heart which we all will never be able to provide answers for. You will always be remembered in our heart. May your soul rest in perfect peace.
    Thank you for sharing this Mark.

  • I have wrestled with what to say to this since early this morning.  Reading your post deeply saddened me, but also served as a reminder to me how precious life is and how grateful I am for those in my life.  Thank you Mark, for your courage to write this and for acknowledging a great loss of life.

  • Kristina Shands

    Beautiful and loving tribute, Mark. Thanks so much for sharing. I’m am so sorry for your loss.

  • I just this moment came back online and read about Trey. I dialed up Grow as you had told me he was one of your first SM mentors. I am sure there is little I can say to help, but I do so appreciate your sharing ……and effort to help us all understand what happened to such a valuable person and online friend to so many of us.

  • I have The Tao of Twitter and remember reading the story of how you and Trey were connected via social media.  Trey was a proponent of the face-to-face friendships and that social media was to be bolstered by those off-line connections.  He had, as you say, so many people who reached out to him, so how is it that he felt so desperate and alone?  You make a good point, Mark, about the chemical composition of our brains.  How do we control or influence something that we cannot see, which is at work in someone’s brain, something that is moving them to a dark and dangerous place?  We cannot.  We can do what you did–offer.  We cannot save one another.  We can only save ourselves.  Trey was in such conflict that his choice was to save himself from the distress and pain that he felt.

    I offer you comfort and a BIG (virtual) hug.

  • Mark, 
    Thank you for writing this. I know it must have been so difficult. 
    I am just back online after spending three unplugged days with my daughter. When I saw news of Trey’s passing, I came here first because I knew you would have words to offer – not of comfort necessarily, but of truth.  I didn’t know Trey personally, but I exchanged blog comments and tweets with him on several occasions. He struck me as a very down-to-earth, generous, and kind soul. I never heard a bad word said about him. The tragedy in this situation runs deep and wide. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and close friends and to all the virtual friends whom he touched over the years. 

  • Kay, I am glad that you are sharing what you are feeling and thinking. I like how you use words like “may” and “if” because these show hope. Please know that I have felt like life was worthless for much of my life and I invite you to read my latest blog and poem that I wrote about Trey because I believe it may encourage you. I have tried to kill myself on several occasions but failed…thankfully. I don’t know what you are going through, but I have been through much abuse, dreadful depression, and so much more…and I am so relieved that I have been able to learn that life can be beautiful despite your past and what is happening around you. I wish the same for you and everyone else. 

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  • Mark, 

    This blog moved me greatly. I seen those bridge posts on his twitter and was wondering about them. I never knew he attempted before. I am very sorry for your loss of your friend. I was greatly impacted from this death and I did not even know him. I could only imagine what you, his family and the rest of his friends are experiencing right now. Many prayer and love sent to all of you. 

  • Anonymous

    This is so incredibly awful, dauntingly grim.  Yet I believe it is an undeniable example of a developing paradox.   Unfortunately, I think this paradox will serve as a defining characteristic of our current culture.

    The mask of happiness is required attire in almost all social situations.  Not only expected, it is highly regarded as admirable behavior.  But when it comes to the social web, we have only begun to identify expected and/or alarming conduct. This tragedy is a jolting reminder that we are negotiating uncharted waters.  

    Rather than accepting and assuming,  wouldn’t the intelligent response be to question? . . .not only in Trey’s case, but all behavior via social web? Much like the study of art, shouldn’t we examine the output of content as a form of expression? . . . .  What is the person saying?  What are they trying to say? What do they expect from their chosen behavior?  and was their behavior chosen at all? Like our current relationship to art, there is no formula for decoding human interaction with the Internet.  Hopefully, time and scientific observation can answer these questions.We can only learn from this unthinkable loss.  Trey’s death should be viewed as a cultural wake up call.  For those that looked up to him, his suicide was inconceivable.  His work served as an example of everything that is right with the social web.  Ironically, in the end, he demonstrated all that is wrong.  

  • Lucinda callie

    Mark, thank you for your post. Your pain can truly be felt across the seas – I am in Perth Australia. I didn’t know Trey but followed his social media channels closely. 
    Depression is a terrible disease – touching so many people in private. It comes over you like darkness – but you always hide it from the world as you dont want to be seen as being too ‘dramatic’ or have people say ‘get over it’ or ‘you dont suffer – think of how many people suffer’. its a quiet killer – and from shame and embarrassment you dont reach out. I hope Treys death will mean people take this disease more seriously – especially in the ‘online’ space, where it is expected to always be ‘happy’.

    I am deeply saddened by this news – and my heart goes out to Treys family and friends.

  • Rusty

    Thank you Mark for sharing this.  I did not know Trey personally but it was a shock when I had heard the news.  It is truly a wake up call to all I am sure to see how important it is to guard our minds as if this could occur in Trey’s life, then it can happen to any one of us.

    It truly is a sad day in the Social Media World.  I was happy to here that he had such dear friends such as youself.


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  • I couldn’t begin to pretend to understand how depression manifests but I just want to join you in offering my heart out to family and friends of Trey. I also knew him online and, briefly, offline. What a generous hearted man. Thank you for your tribute here Mark.

  • Carol, hello from a fellow Aussie.  I lived in Sydney and Canberra from age 8 to 21.

    You offer wisdom here and compassion.  Thank you.  Sadly, many others cannot comprehend the overwhelm and desperation of a person who takes their own life.

    Glad that you shared your thoughts here.

  • Kay, we are none of us strangers.  We are all connected on this earth.  You are just someone that I have not yet met and come to know well.

    I hope that you will consider this:  There are always options.  There are always opportunities.  You are important to people that you have not yet met, even though you do not yet know in what way and why.  

    I pray that you will ask for help, for a hug or a helping hand or even for a stranger to sit and listen to you, if you ever find yourself wishing for everything to stop rather than go on.  I certainly wish that Trey had.

    We ARE all connected.  When pain enters into the life of another, surely (at some level) we all feel it.  When a life is discarded, we all feel the pain.

    May sunshine enter into your life and bring joy and laughter to your expression of yourself.


  • Thank you for the post, Mark. My heart aches for Trey, his family, and everyone who knew him. 

  • I did not know Trey; my only interaction with him being hearing him speak at #soslam in Knoxville. The news was and is shocking and sad.

    Depression can strike anyone, no doubt…I’ve been there myself as have family members. My deepest condolences to you, Mark.

  • Mark,
    I’d never have called you “cowardly” for not writing about your reaction to losing Trey, yet your decision to do so in this way was certainly brave. And most generous is leaving readers, many of whom are, I suspect, looking to Trey’s friends for tiny slices of meaning, to end with that Suicide Survivors Support Group credo.

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  • Agreed.

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  • So, so, so sad to hear about Trey.  Thank you for writing this.

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  • Wow I am so deeply sorry for your loss and the loss of so many others. I can’t even imagine how hard this is. The bravery you have shown today by posting about this is truly honorable. My thoughts and prayers are with each and every person touched by this tragedy. 

  • Heidi Cohen

    Mark–Thank you for sharing another perspective about Trey I never knew. Sincerely, Heidi Cohen


    Greetings from rural Australia.

    What a pleasure to meet you!  Where are you living now?  Your profile on Disqus doesn’t include that information.

    I appreciate your kind words.  They mean a great deal to me.

    I wish you all the very best and hope we meet again.

    Best wishes and take care,


    Carol Jones
    Interface Pty Ltd
    Designers of The Fitz Like A Glove™ Ironing Board Cover

    Ironing Diva’s stories are at http://bit.ly/TheIroningDiva

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  • Thanks for having the courage to share this with us.

    As @twitter-17925141:disqus said below, don’t blame yourself.  You did all you could.  It really sounds like the disease was too overpowering.

    My heart, thought and prayers go out to you, his family and all who knew him and were affected by this…


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  • Lass

    Suicide makes sense only for the people who are not loved by many.

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