A former high school teacher took his own life last week after posting a suicide note on Facebook. Sources say the man, Christopher Swanson, 41, was despondent after losing his teaching license and may have been obsessed with a former student.
His body was found in front of a fountain on the Mercyhurst University campus in Erie. Police say he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. In previous Facebook posts, Swanson had mentioned that his former student was now a freshman at Mercyhurst, but that is currently unconfirmed.
The tragic questions: If Swanson was so open about his plans, why did no one reach out to help him until it was too late? Did no one read it? Did no one take him seriously?
In addition to posting on Facebook, Swanson also had a website where he discussed the turns in his life that he believed had contributed to his increasing feelings of hopelessness. Chief among them, his belief that his former student would never reciprocate his feelings.
Adding to this tragedy is that in spite of his website and Internet activity, Swanson was unable to connect with resources that could have provided help. For all its size, the Internet can still be an exceptionally lonely place. What a tragedy.
His death prompted Mercyhurst President Tom Gamble to reach out to the university community via video. Gamble implored people to turn to their faith in this troubling time.
What would you do if you thought you saw a suicide note online?
Please call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in case you are worried about yourself or someone else.
Image via Michael Schreifels/Flickr