• A comic strip testimony of suicide baiting

    My attorney adamantly dislikes armchair quarterbacking.  Of course, all clients do this.  Reactively.  Clients, as litigants, ask for the ball to be put into motion, but must reluctantly leave the field.  The quarterback will touch the pigskin on every offensive play, but his clients can only hope their man attended the best training camps and sports the strongest cleats.

    This frustrating situation explains how I became a reactive learner.  For me, everything has been reactive since the suicide baiting death of my only child, Dylan Yount, in Hallidie Plaza, San Francisco on February 16, 2010.  Even my retention of a legal team was reactive against the arrogant and stony silence of the San Francisco Police Department, whom I blame for my son’s death.

    Because my learning style changed, I do not know which documents Judge Maria-Elena James saw before she clairvoyantly declared “no reasonable jury” could favor Yount v City and County of San Francisco and threw us out at the federal court level.  All I know it that the judicial ice princess exonerated the police from rank-and-file to the top brass, claiming the Constitutional rights of my son were voided by his illness – his ostensible choice – in her view.  Her draconian pro-suicide baiting manifesto, Document 54, so astounded me I have not yet asked my attorneys if the Ouija board devotee ever saw what I had modestly requested she see – a comic strip and five paragraphs.

    The comic strip cannot be Googled without an URL and is better understood after reading its creator’s tweets.  They introduce the ebullient TOPTOM2010, a death-gore photo journalist pumped about his work:  “Suicide today at Powell and Market, Forever 21,” he buoyantly announces.  “You would have thought someone won the Super Bowl,” he reflects, describing the cacophonous din at the horrific doomsday scene.  The crowd “wanted blood,” he joyously touts, evoking decadent Rome.  “He got what HE wanted.  Let him enjoy it!”‘ he unequivocally flourishes.  “God will not forgive,” he sanctimoniously intones.

    His tweet about the policeman’s nudging of Dylan’s body “with his foot” to see if he was still alive “like poking him with a stick,” is a key element in my grief – all daytime and nighttime horror – the physical and mental insomnia from pain fed by the cold knowledge that the police deliberately allowed a violent crowd to incite my defenseless son to suicide.

    I knew of the comic’s existence for four months before I saw it, finally, sympathetically sent to me minus its dialogue bubbles.  At first.  Indeed, its few words are brutal.  Its refrain, “just look away,” describes not only the attitude of the SFPD, but also their judge gal-pal’s as well, that the mentally ill are modern lepers, suitable candidates for any spontaneous state-sanctioned suicide baiting.  Like most, I thought the comic had been permanently deleted from the Net, but by December 2010 I had secured its hidden URL address.  I first posted there 26 months ago; I became a regular there in January 2012.

    The five paragraphs I had wanted the BFF of the SFPD to read are also a manifesto.  My own.  They are posted at Suicide Baiting Prevention’s Facebook page in Notes.  I readily admit – reactively, of course – they contain an inaccuracy.  I was wrong to have said the societal costs of suicide baiting are incalculable, and I can demonstrate this if you give me just four more minutes.

    First, I know what many of you are thinking.  You are thinking that suicide does not affect you and never will.  Unfortunately, you are most likely mistaken.  You are more likely to die by suicide in America than by automobile death.  If you are in the military, you are more likely to die by suicide than in combat.  For Dylan’s age group, suicide is the second leading cause of death.  Male suicides occur four to every one female.  There were 38,364 U.S. suicide deaths in 2010; before, in a normal life, I would have just said, “more than 35,000.”  For each suicide death, the CDC estimates that 6 to 32 survivors stand behind every victim, over 7 percent of our population every year.  I could recite scores of suicide statistics, but sooner or later most will be affected, and when suicide does affect you, many of you will become passionate about its prevention.  If you, yourself, survive, that is.

    But if suicide baiting should ever touch you – God forbid – you might work to fill the emptiness that paradoxically tries to engulf you every day.  You might become passionately altruistic once you realize that suicide baiting diminishes everyone it touches, however peripherally.

    So why would I now, astonishingly, offer you the link to TOPTOM’s morbid comic?  I offer it because a picture is worth a thousand words, because you are not obligated to witness the societal effects of suicide baiting unless you volunteer to become a willing victim.

    Consider the 525,000 minutes that make a year, 1,440 a day.  Reading this column and opening this link should take you approximately seven minutes.  If you participate, you will be victimized by suicide baiting.  If 10,000 people open this link, 70,000 minutes will collectively tick by.  Each participant will be momentarily fractured.  Each, momentarily shocked and blinded by senseless cruelty, the casual disregard for human life.  Your participation as a willing victim of suicide baiting will add up to a cumulative 48.6 days of victimization, a calculable societal cost.  Fractional compared to mine.

    What will you see at TOPTOM’s Flickr site?  You will see the hideous lifting of the veil, the curtain rising on the very abyss of Hell, a dark, surreal, soul-sickening glimpse into the extreme cruelty humans are capable of inflicting.  You will see an affront to all of  humanity’s member cardholders, a comic strip testament of the historical accuracy of Hallidie Plaza 2-16-10.

    Please, do not open this link if you think you might flag the comic as inappropriate.  The images are graphic, but my son’s wrecked body is only the mortal coil he used to propel himself through his 32-year existence.  The destruction of his body represents the torture that destroyed him and lives on in others after his death.  Like the taunters and their jackbooted overseers who did not recognize his worth, you will be unable to see his soul.

    The comic’s shelf life has always been sketchy even if someone does flag it.  When posted at Natnatty’s Twicsy site, it commanded 17,000 hits in only a few days before it was purportedly “removed.”  Now at its hidden URL address, it has been opened only 663 times, mostly by me, as I attached poetry and pleas petitioning this man to relinquish the rest of his evidence.

    In December 2010 when I tearfully told my attorney I wanted the comic removed, he advised me, “We don’t want to scare anybody off.”  Only now, do I completely understand his words – reactively, of course.  No illness, injury, or deformity could make me love Dylan less.  Please, look away if you must.  Help me fight this if you can.




      • Michael Burks

      • August 10, 2013 at 10:02 pm
      • Reply

      I am still shaking my head because I cannot believe that this is real. Although I know it is real, I just cannot believe that humans would cheer for this. I have never been surrounded by such vile pieces of poop and hope that I never am. If this happened in the Midwest, the outcome would be so much different. Dylan would be alive. This is the “Bible Belt”. We have love, care and compassion for one another. It isnt about religion so much as it is about compassion for one another. Still shaking my head in disbelief.

      • Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Michael. Many other posters have made similar comments to yours about the difference between San Francisco and the Midwest; in all of my research so far, I have not found any instance of a suicide baiting in the Midwest. There are so many in California, though, mostly in L.A.! That being said, I CAN share a piece of independent research I made based on SFGate’s The Scavenger’s “A man jumps to his death and people — laugh?” Thirteen posters at that site argued that the people who had shouted “Jump!” to Dylan were tourists, basing their beliefs on the touristy location of the cable car turnaround. In 2002, the year Dylan moved to San Francisco, Dylan and I were there, in fact, for the first time as tourists to experience those cable cars. A whopping thirty-five comments, though, were criticisms of the people of San Francisco, mostly made by natives who were ashamed of what had happened. They blamed the people of San Francisco. Granted, the comments were all over the board about what had happened that tragic day and, granted, the discussion was not directly about whether the taunters were San Franciscans or tourists, YET these posts were enough to make me look at the comments more closely. Forty-eight responders felt compelled to talk about this. Originally, by the time I finally made my research study, at least 25 of those comments had been “removed,” so a lot of folks were quite sensitive to what kind of persons would incite a suicide. Now, unfortunately, all 243 are archived. In addition, our first responders have protocols for virtually every emergency here in mid-Missouri, too. And Knox boxes to enter buildings quickly, and trained crisis negotiators, rather than the “hostage negotiators the SFPD deploys at suicide attempts. I am still shaking my head as well.

    • I can’t believe the judge refused to hear this case. Is there another way to try again? Supreme Court? Civil lawsuit?

    • Who removes the comment? The commentor? or the blog under violation of terms of service? i was wondering if some of those flip,unfeeling,half a brain comments I’ve read commenting about Dyan’s baited suicide,were removed b/c these worms had a smidgen of remorse?

      • Or maybe I should say,’those worms’ b/c looks like we only have respectful people on this comment thread.

        • I do not know who removed the comments from SFGate’s The Scavenger, but all online newspapers have some kind of policy guidelines for posters. Many comments at “Man jumps to his death and people — laugh?” were gone long before all the remaining of the 243 total were finally archived this spring. And yes, just thoughtful and respectful readers and writers seem to post at iPinion, thank goodness. I will be turning over your remark about a “smidgen of remorse” for awhile, though, Liz. Although I have identified 196 people who witnessed Dylan’s death, I have only spoken with good people who were there that day. No one in the crowd, itself, knew Dylan personally to my knowledge, but I have become friends with many of the witnesses. Many have reached out to me as I continue to struggle to make sense of what happened there. I think some of us have mutually helped each other.

        • I first heard about your story on Help Save Charlie FB page,when you posted in ‘comments by others’ the article by yourself called ‘If Dylan Was a Pit Bull.’
          Since then I have learned so much from you. I admire you & am here to support you & your cause. I think you have educated many people on suicide baiting. Of those 196 in the crowd that you have spoken to,hopefully,most,would step up in a crowd now & do the right thing.
          I know I would.
          I have written emails to several local police depts., mayors & politicians to learn their policies on suicide baiting. No one has answered. I did get to talk with an officer that patrols our very busy Mississippi River Bridge. He said that would not have happened here.
          The officers are held to a high standard. If a person was attempting suicide & a vehicle stopped to taunt the victim, they would be first warned,& moved along,than if they didn’t comply,they would be arrested.
          I believe they would be arrested for getting in the way of a police investigation.
          Seems like it should be ,arrested for suicide baiting & obstructing a police investigation.

    • Hi Kathie,

      I know this was posted awhile ago, but I also know your hurt will not expire. I am a psychology student and after learning about suicide baiting in class, I asked the professor, “Wait… do you mean that crowds of people will join together to help the person? Or are you actually saying it is more common to tell the person IN FRONT of them to jump?” I was in disbelief. I thought there was no way humans were capable of this. I thought surely, this isn’t real. I cannot imagine a world in which I came across a human being, at their lowest point in life, and wanted to push them even lower. That is the act of a monster. Kathie, I looked at the cartoon, even though I have had a lifetime’s worth of trauma before I even reached my 20’s, because I want you to know that if I can share in your pain, even for only 30 minutes (though I assure you Dylan will not be forgotten by me), there is someone out there in this world that feels so cold and empty sometimes who is beside you.

      I currently live in the Southeast, but I will be relocating soon to California for grad school, where I will be studying counseling. I hope to work with victims of trauma and make a small contribution to this world in the best way I know how. I can only hope that others who have seen this comic and read your beautiful words will feel the same call to action. Everyone has the power to create something positive. After all of the darkness I have witnessed in this world, I can only believe this to be true. Tomorrow, my power lies in the fact that I will be bringing this story to my class of 150 students, and I know it will deeply touch many.

      Thank you for bringing such bravery to us Kathie. You are a wonderful leader, trailing behind you wonderful change.

    • Thank you, Emily, for your kind words and for bringing Dylan’s story to your class. Our trial is scheduled to start August 25, 2014, in San Francisco. I hope you will have relocated to CA by then and would welcome meeting you there. Education is key to preventing suicide baiting, which you know by now was first studied by Leon Mann who published his findings in 1981. We have started a Suicide Baiting Prevention Facebook page, and under the “Notes,” we have compiled a list of documented suicide baitings around the world. You will see Shaun Dykes’ case there as well; his mother and I are friends in the same despicable “club” of mothers whose sons’ deaths were encouraged and CHEERED. Dylan’s case has been studied already in many classrooms across the world (and probably Shaun’s, too) mostly right now in Europe. We WILL WIN this case in court, I am sure, but I am stressed right now by the recent developments in Minnesota. The state supreme court there changed their law 609.215, declaring that “encouraging” and “advising” someone to kill himself was a constitutional LEGAL FREE SPEECH RIGHT! (3-19-14 Minnesota v William Melchert-Dinkel). This is a huge issue, one that lots of people — especially those in mental health and psychology — need to be aware of. I have been in shock for days. I feel totally inadequate as a speaker on this human rights issue. I welcome any “noise” you or your students might generate. I will talk to anyone, anytime. I encourage others to write and speak out as well. It’s the only way I can see to create change. I also think the trial will generate much publicity, most likely not the kind San Francisco wants. Your speaking up is wonderful. My gratitude.

    • Our trial is scheduled to begin August 25, 2014, in San Francisco’s Civic Center Courthouse with the Honorable Judge Cynthia Ming-mei Lee, presiding.

    • We were dismissed from our jury trial on July 23, 2014, just 32 days away from the day it was scheduled to begin, August 25, 2014. We are filed at the First District Court of Appeals, San Francisco, as of October 2014.

    • We were dismissed by a unanimous, unpublished opinion (3-0) from the First District Court of Appeal, Division 5, San Francisco, on 8-28-15 after getting a 10 minute Oral Argument hearing on 8-20-15. We filed our Petition for Review with the California Supreme Court on 10-1-15 and are waiting the court’s decision whether it will hear our case. Thank you to all readers who have followed this case so far and are still EXPECTING justice. Much love and gratitude for your support and encouragement.


    • The Ice Princess Judge has never been touched by suicide or suicide baiting. A shame she has so much power.

    • Truer words have never been spoken, Liz. I would shut up forever if any of these judges or city attorneys could look me in the eyes and tell me this is exactly how they would have wanted their sons or daughters treated to have been in such an emergency. Not one person has ever told me that, and I’m not expecting that message from anyone EVER — not even from the San Francisco police, who would be the first in line to question such poor performance.

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