He recalls the time Dylan bought an African hand drum after he had seen Raymond playing one. When Raymond saw Dylan's purchase, he joked about its low quality. "Ah, I should have taken you with me!" Dylan told him, his tone insecure. Raymond sensed that same insecurity another time, when he teased Dylan about how small his bong was — "You call that a bong?" They laughed about it. But the next time Raymond came over, "there was a huge bong sitting there."

"Good things always happened to him but he never thought he was good enough," says Raymond. "Like he couldn't really enjoy it and never really stopped to smell the roses. He was on a journey of self-realization, and he achieved so much. But he always seemed to feel, 'I coulda done better.'"

Maybe he didn't have the strength to keep climbing. It sometimes hits big-city, upwardly mobile young professionals particularly hard.

“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

"He's in that age group that nobody really pays attention to," says Eve Meyer, executive director of San Francisco Suicide Prevention. "Everybody thinks they're happy. They're just getting started. They have their whole lives ahead of them. They're young. They look like they should be happy. But there's a lot of pressure there."

He was out there on that ledge for so long. Maybe he was thinking about those jeering faces looking up at him, Raymond says. Dylan seemed to embody San Francisco — an ambitious transplant with a bleeding heart. Raymond recalls more than one occasion when he had to drag Dylan down the street to keep him from giving another dollar to another panhandler. "He looked at people who didn't have anything and couldn't help but try to help them," Raymond says. "He had a deep sympathy for others.

"When you have a belief that humanity at its core is good and then you have people tell you to jump — see someone laughing at your pain — the only way to shut them up is to jump," Raymond continues. "Something deep in him told him that humanity wasn't all it was cracked up to be. He wouldn't have jumped off that building if people weren't yelling 'Jump.' No fucking way."

Dylan's mother is convinced this was the case.

"With all my heart, with all my soul, I do not believe that he went on that ledge to kill himself," Kathie says. "I believe he wanted someone to help him. He was looking in the crowd."

Heartbroken and not knowing what else to do, she has sued the San Francisco Police Department for not trying to silence the spectators. Yelling "jump!" at a man on a ledge violates the California penal code, she notes, and the officers had a legal obligation to detain those who yelled up at him. A man on a ledge is in a fragile state, ambivalent to the thought of death, says Clayton. Like a dinghy lost at sea, he can drift one way or the other — to life or to death — depending on the waves' direction.

"Dylan was the type of person that if enough people were telling him to jump, he would almost do it just to show them that he could," says Andrew. "He was standing on that ledge, looking down at all those people yelling 'Jump! Jump!' and I think he felt like he was backed into a corner, felt like he had no choice but to jump."

Of course, Dylan had already hit some breaking point by the time he climbed out on that ledge. So even those closest to him will never know what it was like for him out there.


Nobody can reach Dylan. He's been on the ledge for 45 minutes now. And for 45 minutes, those strangers 100 feet below have kept the Internet updated, connecting through images and 140-character messages. But not a single person can connect to Dylan. No one is any closer to knowing what is going through his head, even as those strangers are writing the final chapter of his life.

The police are tying to reach him. They've finally gotten into the building. Trained suicide negotiators are rushing to the sixth floor. At least one officer is already attempting to talk to him. "Get the hell down from there!" he yells from the ground.

There is a distance greater than the 100 feet separating the ledge and the ground. The spectators see an event, through which they package and discuss their own emotions. "We detach ourselves from what is going on," says Karen Sobel-Lojeski, a professor in the Technology and Society department at Stony Brook University. "We're talking to ourselves, basically. We're consuming our experience through our own filters."

Those filters are not impregnable. Certain experiences can leak through and touch the heart. The people in the crowd will feel the pain later, when social media sites turn into de facto grief counseling sessions and the suicide prevention hotline rings off the hook, as something that seemed unreal on the other side of the lens becomes more real than many people can handle.

For now it is only spectacle, a novelty during the walk home from school, or the afternoon shopping, or the sightseeing, or the wait at the bus stop.

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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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