2018 Obit Column Will Be Up Soon

If you’re anxiously waiting for my annual, lengthy column of 2018 Obituaries, trust me when I say I am working on it.

For the past two years, I’ve given access of my column to my employer for use in not one, but possibly two of their magazines. They’ve never acknowledged my contribution.

This year I’ve asked them to print the Suicide Prevention Hotline on the bottom of the pages. I’m not sure they are going to do that either.

This morning I came across this article that was published Tuesday, Oct. 30 in the Annals of Internal Medicine entitled … Suicide Is Twice as Common as Homicide in the U.S. – and More Often Involves Guns – New Study Says


I wonder how mass shootings fit in?


Suicide … Read This First.

One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a kid from my class was walking home from school.  His name was Kyle.  It looked like he was carrying all of his books.  I thought to myself, “Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday?  He must really be a nerd.”

I had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football game with my friends the next day), so I shrugged my shoulders and went on.  As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him. They ran at him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt.  His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him.  He looked up and I saw this terrible sadness in his eyes.

My heart went out to him.  So, I jogged over to him as he crawled around looking for his glasses and I saw a tear in his eye.  As I handed him his glasses, I said, “Those guys are jerks.  They really should get lives.”  He looked at me and said, “Hey thanks!”

There was a big smile on his face.  It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude.  I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived.  As it turned out, he lived near me, so I asked him why I had never seen him before.  He said he had gone to private school before now.  I would have never hung out with a private school kid before.  We talked all the way home, and I carried some of his books.  He turned out to be a pretty cool kid.  I asked him if he wanted to play a little football with my friends and he said yes.  We hung out all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him, and my friends thought the same of him.

Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again.  I stopped him and said, “Boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles with this pile of books everyday!  He just laughed and handed me half the books.”  Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends.  When we were seniors we began to think about college.  Kyle decided on Georgetown and I was going to Duke.  I knew that we would always be friends, that the miles would never be a problem.  He was going to be a doctor and I was going for business on a football scholarship.

Kyle was valedictorian of our class.  I teased him all the time about being a nerd.  He had to prepare a speech for graduation.  I was so glad it wasn’t me having to get up there and speak.  On graduation day, I saw Kyle and he looked great.  He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school.  He filled out and actually looked good in glasses.  He had more dates than I had and all the girls loved him.  Boy, sometimes I was jealous!  Today was one of those days.

I could see that he was nervous about his speech.  So, I smacked him on the back and said, “Hey, big guy, you’ll be great!”  He looked at me with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled.  “Thanks,” he said.  As he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began: “Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years.  Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach…but mostly your friends.  I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them.  I am going to tell you a story.”

I just looked at my friend with disbelief as he told the first day we met.  He had planned to kill himself over the weekend.  He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn’t have to do it later and was carrying his stuff home.  He looked hard at me and gave me a little smile.  “Thankfully, I was saved.  My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable.”

I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment.  I saw his Mom and Dad looking at me and smiling that same grateful smile.  Not until that moment did I realize it’s depth.

Never underestimate the power of your actions.  With one small gesture, you can change a person’s life.

Mark Balelo Dead: ‘Storage Wars’ Star Dies At 40

‘Storage Wars’ buyer Mark Balelo found dead at workplace – The Clicker.

Brandi gave Mark Balelo the nickname of Rico Suave. When he showed up at Storage Wars auctions, it wasn’t a surprise if it turned into a bidding war between him and Hester. I remember one episode where Barry, as a joke, said that lockers might be going for $10,000.

Apparently he was found dead inside his car which was parked and running in the garage at his auction house in Simi Valley CA. His death was ruled as a suicide and came two days after he had been arrested for a drug-related offense.

I’ve been searching for a statement from A&E, but have not found one. He was one of those auction extras, on the same order as Nabila. Not a regular, but definitely a force to be reckoned with. The episode where he had an old game console that he swore was worth $13,000 (or something similar) was hysterical. The link above has some of that episode.

This is the link to his AETV storage wars biography:


Does MIT have one of the highest student suicide rates in the country?

Prosecutor defends case against Aaron Swartz – CNN.com.

Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz isn’t the first brilliant mind at MIT to commit suicide, and the way things are going, he won’t be the last. Since 1988, 19 men and 4 women MIT students have committed suicide.

The national campus suicide rate was estimated at 7.5 per 100,00 students. MIT’s rate was 10.2 per 100,000 students (undergraduate and graduate students). MIT’s breakdown of its undergraduate suicide rate was 20.6. This was from an outdated Boston Globe study of college suicides, 1990-2001. Even when this study was done, suspicion was surrounding MIT and their high rate of brilliant students taking their own lives.

Mark R. Kordos, 18. April 8, 1988. Jumped off the 13th Floor of MacGregor House. Straight A student, Kordos had been active in the Musical Theatre Guild, playing lead roles in two productions. He was demanding and a perfectionist. He had a 5.0 grade point average. He was a junior in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and would have graduated in 1989 at age 19. In a letter from his parents, Ronald and Betty Kordos said, “In its quest to remain the premier institute in training and graduating the best-prepared and most-promising engineers and scientists in the world, MIT has become de-humanized. And by disregarding the limitations of the human mind and body, MIT has truly become a second-rate university. MIT, the “system,” and society took our son, and victimized him. What a price to pay to maintain your world-class standing! How many more will follow Mark?

Here’s the list …

David G. Moore. July 4, 1990. Fell from the 5th story balcony in Senior House.

Younes Borki. October, 1990. Fell from the 14th Floor of MacGregor House.

Edward B. Hontz, Jr. June, 4, 1991. Died from falling off the roof of Building 66.

Douglas P. Rodger. June 20, 1991. Died from carbon monoxide poisoning while in his garage at home.

Jan Festus M. Moore. 1993. Jumped from the 15th floor of the Law Library.

Melissa N. Ronge. February 26, 1996. Died when she fell to her death from the 14th floor of MacGregor House between 4-6am.

Scott Krueger. 1997. Died after being in a coma for 3 days, apparent from alcohol poisoning. He was found unconscious in his room at Phi Gamma Delta. His blood alcohol level was 0.41 percent when he arrived at the hospital.

Philip Gale

Philip Gale

Philip C. Gale, 19. Died March 13, 1998 from jumping from the 15th floor of the tallest high-rise on the MIT campus after drawing a physics formula on a blackboard showing what happens when a body falls from a great height. Then he slammed a chair through the classroom window and jumped more than 200 feet to his death. Gale attended Scientology’s “elite” Delphi Academy boarding school in Oregon from age 8 to 14, enrolled at MIT at 15, and took time off at age 17 to work for Earthlink, an Internet company with Scientology links (recently bought by Sprint).

Richard A. Guy, Jr. died in 1999 of asphyxiation by nitrous oxide inhalation in the East Campus dormitory. He was 22.

Michael P. Manley, 17. February 6, 1999. Died after falling from the 14th floor of MacGregor House in an apparent suicide.

Chris Millard

Chris Millard

Chris Millard, 24. March 24, 2000. Fell to his death from the roof of Phi Beta Epsilon.

Elizabeth Shin, 19. Died April 14, 2000 from self inflicted burns. From The Tech, MIT’s newspaper dated February 9, 2007, it was reported that the Massachusetts Superior Court dismissed charges against MIT and its police officers but did hold administrators and medical clinicians potentially liable for Shin’s death.

This meant the 2002 civil wrongful death suit filed by Elizabeth Shin’s parents could go forward. Still facing charges were MIT Medical mental health doctors, an Associate Dean and a housemaster.

Alarmed by the prospect that clinically untrained administrators could possibly be held personally liable for student suicides, schools in Massachusetts and elsewhere around the country filed amicus briefs in March of 2006.

MIT wasn’t willing to “wait and see” and made an out-of-court settlement, announced in April of 2006. The Shin family agreed that Elizabeth’s death was likely an “accident.” The terms of the settlement were not disclosed, although the payouts would not come from endowment funds, but rather from insurance providers.

Seth L. Karon, 21. February, 2001. Committed suicide in his hometown of Plymouth, Minnesota.

Julia Carpenter, 20. Died April 30, 2001 by ingesting sodium cyanide. Julia had been stalked by Charvak Karpe for months prior. MIT did little to protect her.

Julie Carpenter’s parents also brought a $20 million wrongful-death lawsuit against MIT and Charvak P. Karpe. Karpe wasn’t just another student. He was also employed by MIT. He stalked Julie, camped outside of her dorm room, twice violated Julie’s privacy by accessing her private computer files and he copied video of Julie and her boyfriend engaged in sexual activity and proceeded to show this video to other students in Random Hall, the dorm where Julie (and Charvak) lived.

In addition to claiming that the MIT’s negligence resulted in Julie’s death, the suit also charged MIT with breach of contract for failing to provide a safe housing environment in which Julie was protected from harassers. The suit also charged Karpe with assault and battery.
The out-of-court settlement was announced in September 2006. The terms were not disclosed.

Charvak P. Karpe live in Cambridge, Mass. and has a Facebook page. It seems his life has gone on.

FMI: http://tech.mit.edu/V123/N27/27carpenter.27n.html

Jaemin Rhee, PhD. April 8, 2003. A friend of Rhee and a member of the Ptolemy Players, the chamber music group that she founded, said that Rhee had written a brief note before her death. Her friend said that the note contained her parents’ phone number and a request, “don’t tell anybody else.”

Daniel S. Mun. Died February, 2004. Daniel was found in the Charles River. He was a Chi Phi fraternity member who had been last seen on December 5, 2003. Mun’s father reported to The Boston Herald that he had found a note on his son’s computer and that he seemed depressed and had said goodbye.

Bhuwan Singh. May 7, 2004. Died from asphyxiation. Singh admired Mother Theresa and would do anything for anyone else to make their lives better, no matter what the sacrifice to himself. He enrolled in Auburn University after finishing 10th grade and entered the PhD program at MIT at age 21.

Zhenxiu Mao. February 28, 2005. Mao generously donated money to poor elementary and high school students in China even though he did not have much money. He was incredibly smart and had high expectations for himself. He is survived by his wife, parents and brother, all of whom live in China.

Shin-Kyu Yang, PhD 99, Research Associate, 44. July 10, 2005. Yang was a researcher in the MIT Center for E-Business, received masters and doctorate degrees from the Sloan School of Management, and was an assistant professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business prior to his return to MIT. He is survived by a wife and son.

Pushpinder Singh, PhD, Postdoctoral Associate, 33. February 28, 2006. Brilliant and enthusiastic about learning, yet humble and kind, Singh is survived by parent, two sisters and his girlfriend. A Media Lab fellowship for undergraduates was established in Singh’s memory.

Friedrich G. Henning. January 5, 2007. A second year graduate student in the Biology Department was found in his Boston apartment. He was originally from Hanover, Germany.

Aaron Swartz, 26. January 11, 2013. American programmer and internet activist, co-creator of RSS (at age 14), died from an apparent suicide. He was facing copyright-related legal issues. In 2010, he founded DemandProgress.org, a “campaign against the Internet censorship bills SOPA/PIPA.” Swartz’ death ignited a firestorm of discussion over the Internet, where he was regarded as something of a folk hero. Hacker News, a social news site popular within the tech community saw it front page dominated with posts about Swartz for two days. On Twitter, supporters of Swartz tweeted PDFs of academic papers in tribute of Swartz’ advocacy of free information.

You might also want to read David Weinberger’s piece: Why the Net Grieves Aaron Swartz

Amanda Todd Suicide: Police Will Investigate: Larry Fedoruk Blog

News Talk 610 CKTB :: Amanda Todd Suicide: Police Will Investigate – Larry Fedoruk :: Larry Fedoruk Blog.

This isn’t about a quality baby boomer TV show. But it is about a topic that’s near and dear to my heart and that’s BULLYING.

I opened my weekend Seek or Shout email this morning and on a page with only two entries I found this link from Larry Fedoruk’s blog about Amanda Todd. I really like Larry Fedoruk’s blog. He blogs about relevant issues not just fluff.

I almost always write about fluff, but not this time. I hate bullies and after I watched Amanda Todd’s silent video where she was holding up pieces of paper that was the narration behind years of her pain I decided that I wouldn’t write about fluff today.

UPDATE: I asked for permission to be a member of a “group” on Amanda Todd’s R.I.P. Facebook page and it’s a mixed emotion. First, I’m getting a lot of emails to my personal email account. Second, I found some awful things people have written on her R.I.P. page, things that Amanda’s parents will see and it just breaks my heart.

It makes me upset that Facebook can’t do a better job of monitoring those pages. I even tried to report this person and when I did I found pages and pages of instructions from Facebook, but didn’t find a link or email address or any way to actually “report” this person. I’m inserting the item, but I’m warning you, it will piss you off and considering Facebook makes it impossible to report it and does nothing to stop it will piss you off even more.

Someone thought it would be cute to make a bleach ad featuring Amanda Todd’s likeness.