The man on the ledge is named Dylan Yount. He is 32 years old, and his life is more than his death. Behind him, past the arching window, is his home, apartment 606 at 10 Cyril Magnin. It is filled with unpacked boxes. He is unknown, standing up there in this city. But 2,000 miles to the east, there is a town where everybody knows him.

Harrisburg is a rural patch of land in the middle of Missouri, bisected by a country highway, connected through gravel roads, and home to 266 residents. In many ways, Dylan was a product of his hometown. He spent his childhood climbing trees and playing tag in his vast, woody backyard. He dreamed of one day becoming a firefighter, like his friend Andrew Gray's dad. As a teen, he spent his weekends four-wheeling, fishing, and deer hunting.

His mother, Kathie, was a single mom, an uncommon sight in Harrisburg. She ensured that Dylan would never be short on activities or father figures. He took Taekwondo lessons, rising to black belt. As an Eagle Scout, he once made a sundial out of rocks and scraps of bronze. He mastered the saxophone and often spent his high school lunch hours jamming in the music room with friends.

“I believe he wanted somebody to help him,” says Dylan’s mother, KathieYount. “He was looking in the crowd.”
Photos courtesy of Kathie Yount
“I believe he wanted somebody to help him,” says Dylan’s mother, KathieYount. “He was looking in the crowd.”
Photos courtesy of Kathie Yount

The older he got, the more he stood out. In a town of conservatives, he inherited his mother's progressive outlook. Kathie, an English teacher at the high school, also passed down her brains.

"He was very intelligent," says Andrew. "And popular. Everybody knew him. He was sort of a clown, too, always cracking jokes in the classroom."

In his graduating class of 33 students, Dylan was valedictorian. He made the National Honor Society. While most of his friends moved on to the local junior college, Dylan enrolled at the University of Missouri, where he lived at the Alpha Kappa Lambda house and graduated with a degree in business administration. He took a marketing job for a tech company in St. Louis. But by the time he got laid off two years later, in 2001, he was itching to see more.

"There's nothing for me here anymore," he told his friend Wendy Isaacs. "It's just too small."

Wendy, who had settled in Walnut Creek, suggested he come out to San Francisco. So he did. He was instantly infatuated. Back in Harrisburg that Christmas, Dylan hung a cable car ornament on the tree. He also brought with him a cable car trolley bell and a picture of a cable car ripped from a tourist guide of the cable car turnaround. He decided to move to San Francisco.

He got a job selling phone books for AT&T. He explored the city, surfing its waters, biking the surrounding mountains, hitting the bars. There were Dave Matthews Band concerts and Jack Johnson shows, beautiful women and good food.

"He was down for anything, always looking for a thrill," says Raymond St. Martin, who first befriended Dylan when they worked together at AT&T. "He loved San Francisco. He was drawn to the music and the scene and the people and the fashion and the outdoors and the hiking. He was a farm boy excited to be in the city."

The city repaid him for his devotion. He moved up the professional ranks, eventually reaching a six-figure salary. He fell in love with a beautiful girl who worked in technology. He bought a BMW. He filled his closet with designer threads, which he hung on clotheslines after washing because he was worried the dryer would ruin the fabric.

And throughout, Dylan remained close to his people. He was at the hospital when Wendy gave birth to each of her kids. When Raymond was reeling from an argument with his girlfriend, Dylan put an arm on his shoulder, a drink in his hand, and, soon enough, a smile on his face. He was soft-spoken, but always sure of himself. A steady hand to lift you up whenever you needed it.

"I went through a couple of tough breakups and he was always a shoulder to cry on," says Andrew. "You could always express emotion to him, didn't have to hide anything. I've never seen him waver. He was always the rock."

His friends couldn't have been happier for his success.

"He had his dream car, his dream job, and his dream girl," says Raymond. "Things were trending up for him."

In the summer of 2009, Dylan embarked on an extended European trip with his girlfriend. They spent the next six months skiing the Alps and swimming the Spanish coast.

Back in San Francisco, they moved in together — a spacious penthouse overlooking the cable car turnaround. The boxes were still unpacked when she left for her first day back at work on Feb. 16, 2010.

On this day, Dylan's life seems as picturesque as those cable cars spinning outside his window.


Beto Lopez also found his dreams in San Francisco. He came from a small town in the Central Valley to pursue a career as a filmmaker, and here he is on Market Street ready to shoot a group of break dancers. But the dancers are not dancing. They are staring up at a man standing on the ledge above the Forever 21 building. And now so is Beto. "Jump!" he hears someone shout. "Do it already!"

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48 comments
kathieyount
kathieyount topcommenter

@kathieyount 

"Suicide baiting is a hate crime" is posted at http://ipinionsyndicate.com/suicide-baiting-is-a-hate-crime/

"Suicide baiting:  no kindness in the Age of Anonymous Cruelty" is posted at http://ipinionsyndicate.com/suicide-baiting-no-kindness-in-the-age-of-anonymous-cruelty/

"Do police deserve a Teflon coating?" is posted at http://ipinionsyndicate.com/do-police-deserve-a-teflon-coating/

"Judge's stand on suicide baiting" is posted at http://ipinionsyndicate.com/a-legal-justification-for-suicide-baiting/


kathieyount
kathieyount topcommenter

@kathieyount 

Always, "wowwow," those who claim a suicide baiting never happened post anonymously.  We have the tapes that clearly show what happened.  How sad you are for making this post.  Prove you were there if I am wrong.  I am Kathie Yount, and I stand by everything I have written about Dylan's death.

wowwow
wowwow

OMG I was there and the incident did not seem at all to be suicide baiting. People were not cheering him on, only ONE guy yelled "jump" like 30 min before and then another yelled "stupid" AFTER he jumped. What is this? I was right in front of his building packing with a film crew. I cannot believe how things have been taken so out of proportion. This guy stepped out of his apartment twice to jump, he decided to do it, not the crowd. 

kathieyount
kathieyount topcommenter

From the world of classical Rome to the skyscrapers of San Francisco, beauty often contradicts reality.  The iconic Colosseum was the emblematic symbol of decadent Rome; the beaux-arts Forever 21 building, lovely.  Yet the Colosseum was the horrific site of state-sanctioned death "games."  Will we tolerate Hallidie Plaza, San Francisco, serving as an emblematic symbol for modern death games?

The Colosseum seated 50,000 for regular attendance to witness the brutal deaths of mostly anonymous souls who died as entertainment.  Hallidie Plaza had a spontaneous crowd of 1,000 to witness a suicide baiting of another anonymous victim in a modern death game.

"Rome, It Was, for the Depraved and the Keyboard Crusaders Alike" is posted at Suicide Baiting Prevention at https://www.facebook.com/SuicideBaitingCrowdPrevention?ref=ts

jessica.a.james
jessica.a.james

Dear God.... I wish I would have been there, to be the voice in the crowd begging him to stop, reaching out to him in his darkness. My husband and I have been so touched by this story as well as angered and disgusted by the inhumanity of this world, this city... our city. The city we chose to raise our children in, a city that prides itself on diversity and love. To Kathie, thank for sharing your sons story, for fighting for justice and for never giving up. I didn't know your son, but I think I speak for him when I say, thank you... you are a truly amazing mother.

dawdler
dawdler

Just as Beto Lopez found himself saved by a timely gust of wind, so Dylan Yount found himself damned by a particular configuration of a crowd of people. Our lives hang by such absurdly narrow threads, it's amazing more people don't go mad through the sheer arbitrariness of it all. Perhaps if he'd come out just a few minutes later the composition of the passers-by would have been different. Perhaps not.

Getting through to someone intent on their own demise is no doubt difficult and terrifying, but it takes a special kind of cowardice to urge such a vulnerable person to take their own life.

efrantes
efrantes

These are the sort of posers who have displaced the truly cool people of SF, they are heartless scum whose parents really should have sought out abortions.  May they all be shown as much compassion as they demonstrated here,.

FranklinC
FranklinC

Shortly after Dylan's death, I blogged about the scene at "Suicide Prevention News and Comment" (see "One Man’s Death Offers Insight into Humanity and Suicide" at http://suicidepreventioncommunity.wordpress.com/2010/02/19/one-mans-death-offers-insight-into-humanity-and-suicide/), reminding readers that suicide affects "a very precious human being … He (or she) has a family and friends and loved ones who deserve our respect and our compassion and our understanding and our support." Anyone who is affected by the suicide of a loved one, friend, or colleague can find helpful information and resources through the Suicide Grief Support Quick Reference at http://sg.sg/griefreference.

dina_butler
dina_butler

R.I.P., Dylan. You lived, and you touched others in a good way. In your heartfelt interactions with others, even in the smallest ways, you impacted their lives; thus, they live, changed for the better - even in the smallest ways - because you lived. And, in this way, you live on.

Also, my condolences to all who knew Dylan, and who will miss him. Remember him in ways that help you, help his memory, and help others.

beyonsense
beyonsense

California Penal Code Section 401 states, "Every person who deliberately aids, or advises, or encourages another to commit suicide, is guilty of a felony."   There should be many videos from the scene. Find them, identify people who screamed "Jump!" and lock them up. Please!

john1936
john1936

Really good piece. Thanks for this, empathy is always a public service. Props to the graphic designer, too.

Langston
Langston

Fantastic writing. Sad story.

spinnerchick
spinnerchick

I knew Dylan. Thank you for remembering him.

happygirl2157
happygirl2157

I'm here, listening...I'm so proud of you Kathy for your strength and courage. It's a very sad world we live in, the day people no longer value the life of another human being. Thank you for keeping that love alive for future generations.    

hplovecraft
hplovecraft

Extreme version of neo-yuppie torpor... 'cosmic boredom' or existential nausea.

His childhood nurturing sounds eerily like Adam Lanza's..

brirock
brirock

Thank you so much for writing this.

kpbuckley1
kpbuckley1

Wow. This is an amazing, and heartbreaking, story. I wish it hadn't needed to have been written, but appreciate the care and effort that went into it. 

mathomas2
mathomas2

@randolph.fleming You didn't know Dylan and you have no idea what you're talking about. Talking out of your ass, and it stinks. How dare you pass judgment so callously? Where's you're humanity?

DMCO
DMCO

@randolph.fleming  

Judging from your heartless speculation I would imagine that you would have been one of the one's yelling for him to jump.

mathomas2
mathomas2

@randolph.fleming @mathomas2 For those wanting to read the blog post I wrote about witnessing Dylan's suicide:

I included a link to it in an earlier comment, but SF Weekly apparently doesn't allow people to post URLs. You can find the post at my blog. Just Google "AnimalRighter" and when you get there type "Dylan" into the Search box.

Happy New Year!

hplovecraft
hplovecraft

@mathomas2 " Just the facts ma'am..Just the facts." ( Jack Webb / Dragnet ) As a former Navy Hospital Corpsman , part of my job description was to give aid and support to people in times of crisis.. You've seen this whole event through the lense of your own ' class bias / consciousness'.. Where's your humanity when you ' bid up ' the rents on studio apartments , here in the city , when you're actually working in Mountain View ?! No prize on this round , Lance...

kathieyount
kathieyount topcommenter

@randolph.fleming 

I am Kathie Yount, mother of Dylan Yount.  Would you please have the decency to quit posting on this page?

hplovecraft
hplovecraft

@vylliki @randolph.fleming  This page is one big 'Mutual Admiration Society' for Gen-X , twenty nothing trainspotters and Tenderloin nonprofit navel gazers...Oh , and you're all 'adopted'!

mathomas2
mathomas2

@randolph.fleming Considering your response, you appear to be mentally ill, and I did not realize that before. 

You truly need to get whatever mental health treatment is available to you. I do, honestly and with my whole heart, hope that you get the help you need. 

Suicide is serious. Death is serious. So is mental illness. With all sincerity, I wish you the best. Peace.

vylliki
vylliki

@randolph.fleming So you were a Navy corpsman big deal, I did three tours in Iraq. Your Navy service doesn't keep you from coming across like a real scumbag.

spinnerchick
spinnerchick

@randolph.fleming you really don't know anything about anything because the person you are talking to, mathomas2, does a lot to serve humanity, but just not in the way of war and death. I know there are trolls like you out there that just comment on articles just to stir up other commenters, but please just shut up before you twist the daggers in already a deep wound.



mathomas2
mathomas2

@randolph.fleming @mathomas2 I was there, at Forever 21, when Dylan died (%%s). I heard the people taunting him to jump and laughing as he lay on the ground in a pool of his own blood. 

I have spoken with his mother and became friends with one of his close friends from work. Several people who personally knew Dylan, and  many who witnessed his suicide, commented on my blog post. 

So what if you're a former Navy Hospital Corpsman? You didn't know Dylan. I know people who did. What "facts" do you have to support your judgments in this case? NONE. All you have are suppositions and accusations that I've supposedly "seen this whole event through the lense (sic) of (my) own 'class bias / consciousness.'" You don't even know me. So don't tell me how I'm seeing this.

Your comment remains distasteful, disrespectful and misinformed. And the fact that you think this is about winning a "prize in this round" seems self-centered. This isn't a contest and this isn't about you. This is about a man's life, and death, and showing some respect for him and those who cared about him. 

 
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