A week ago today, Aaron gave up. And since I received the call late Friday night telling me that, like so many others who were close to him, I have not rested. Not slept, really. Not connected with my kids, at all. Not held my wife except to comfort her tears, or for her to comfort mine.
I am still struggling to come to terms with Aaron’s death. I was first incredibly depressed. Then mad. I’m still at that point.
I was one step removed from him in more ways than I can count and, based on my grief, I can’t imagine the pain experienced by my friends and colleagues. His causes overlapped with my own. His principles often as well. I can understand and sympathize – and, to a large extent, support – his advocacy tactics. I can impose my own understandings on why he took his life and be saddened, but not necessarily surprised and certainly unable to lash out at him for his decision.
What is perhaps most significant to my mind, now, is that the challenges that faced Aaron similarly bear down on many of the members of the digital and civil rights community. Threats of outlandish prosecution. Warnings of how advocacy will be treated as criminal behaviour of the highest sort. Attempts to legally force and coerce colleagues to turn on one another.
Aaron can, and does, serve as a focus for some of the problems that some members of this community experience on a sadly common basis. We need to move forward to better help, support, and uplift our own. We need to work harder to make sure that suicide isn’t seen as a way to resolve the problems that some of our community experiences. To this end we have to buttress against the despondency, isolate, and fear imposed by elements of government with the hope, togetherness, and laughter that makes this community so important and productive.