Lead a Good Life, Everyone: Trey Malone’s Suicide Note

Trey Malone took his own life two years ago today, in June 2012. His last wish was that his voice finally be heard and listened to.

Editor’s note: We want to open this article with a warning: we are reprinting, in full, the suicide note left by a young man named Trey Malone, who killed himself when he was unable to cope any longer with the sexual assault he had suffered as a student at Amherst College. To say it might be triggering for those sensitive to issues of suicide and sexual assault is an understatement.

Trey’s family support the publication of his final words. They have provided the text of the note to us, and we are publishing it with their approval. More importantly, we are publishing it because it was written to educate. In his last words, Trey speaks of important issues that go unexamined, important voices that go unheard. He writes to a society that, in the end, couldn’t help him enough. He wanted the things he was saying to be heard, and so, in accordance with that wish, we are publishing his words.

♦◊♦

I suppose, in a lot of ways, this was how it was meant to end. The water tried to take me once and I’m drawn back to this day. Especially on a day like today.

There is a certain sense of irony involved in choosing to end my life in the one thing that’s always pushing forward. Even in this awful polluted bay, the water licks the seaweed and barnacle-covered pieces of rock. There’s some tortured metaphor in everything isn’t there?

When I was in elementary school, I often wondered if I’d get to be like Dad. I spent hours imagining my own reconstructed version of those stories. Initially, the base of these dreams was King Arthur. Endeared by months spent on that bed reading back and forth with mom, then it turned to Zelda, a black and white Gameboy game. The landmarks of St. Maarten all became transplants from that 2” by 2” screen. By the end of 2nd grade, however, it became your stories dad. All those years reading and imagining developed into that one strong fanciful King Arthur of New York. There is a special level of humility to all those tales. The triumphs and failings of a damaged man, certainly no less broken than the rest of us, but human, none the less.

My dreams and hopes have shifted since then, but that base has always been there. King Malone in the Volvo P1800 (with the broken headlights). These days, I’ve become more tired of remembering the past and wondering about the future. I’ve slowly watched that future collapse in on itself whether by my own actions or those of others and now I’m simply tired. My future is rubble and while below that rubble, there is still a foundation, my arms are weak and my tools are broken. My job is gone, relationships strained, and mugshot posted. Entropy is a funny thing I suppose. A house of stone may take a millennia to collapse, but it will collapse. Unfortunately, it would appear the imaginary building blocks of my future were far less sturdy.

Even absent that natural collapse, the sexual assault was too much. There was no adequate form of preparation available for that and no repair afterwards. What began as an earnest effort to help on the part of Amherst, became an emotionless hand washing. In those places I should’ve received help, I saw none. I suppose there are many possible reasons for this. But in the end, I’m still here and so too is that night. I hold no ill will nor do I place an iota of blame upon my family. I blame a society that remains unwilling to address sexual assault and rape. One that pays some object form of lip service to the idea of sexual crimes while working its hardest to marginalize its victims. One where the first question a college president can pose to me, regarding my own assault is, “Have you handled your drinking problem?”

My story is far from exceptional in this regard. Every two minutes there is another victim. 97% of rapists will never spend a day in jail. 1 in every 6 woman in the US has been a victim of rape and 1 in 33 men. Despite this, every awful myth about rape persists. Society will continue to blame women for the clothes they wear (despite hard evidence showing no link) and continue to say, “You shouldn’t have been there” when 73% of rapes are committed by non strangers and more than 50% take place within one mile of the victims home. (4 in 10 take place at their home) Sexual crime is viewed as inconsequential unless the fabled “dark alley with a gun” assault occurs and even then, women face the eternal, “why were you there? What were you wearing?” badgering.

To hear men and women speak of our culture as some Feminazi PC nightmare is embarrassing. To act as though we are not to be held accountable for our words and language is even worse. Free speech has never nor will it ever mean immunity from criticism. Words and languages have meaning. If you don’t think what you say or how you phrase it matters, look up Frank Luntz. The next time you carelessly use the N-word or any other derogatory term, the next time you call some man a bitch or a pussy, try to think about the repercussions of casual slurs. If you’re angry about political correctness or whatever other worthless phrase you feel is necessary, ask yourself why you feel not only entitled to the usage of slurs but compelled to. Read some real freaking feminist literature and stop listening to Rush Limbaugh too. “Feminism is for Everybody” by bell hooks is a good start.

Sorry I ranted a bit, but please have someone read the last two paragraphs to whomever comes to say goodbye. I love all of you and I know this will hurt you more than anything else I could have done, but I’m tired and the water looks beautiful. Pithy a statement as it may be, “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem” is certainly accurate. I’d take my own advice, but I stopped listening nine months and six days ago.

Mom, I’m sure you will blame yourself for any number of things, but I want you to know it is not nor was it ever your fault. If it were not for you, dad, Dan, Callan, and everyone else, I never would have lasted this long. I love you more than I will ever be able to tell you. Please go to Costa Rica. You deserve every minute of it. Besides, I hear they pack your lunch for you in heaven.

Dad, I imagine this will hit you the hardest . I want you to know that I still have that dream. Even if I’ll never get to see it. Please take care of your health. Callan will need you and so will everyone else. I love you dad.

Dan, Sorry about the $300. I’d pay you back if I could. You were right about most of the things you told me and I’m sorry that you’ll have to buy a ticket down as well. Take a break please. Find some way to spend time with everyone. I love you I’m sorry.

Callan, What happened over the last week has nothing to do with this, if nothing else, it was one helluva way to end it. Please study and work, You’re every bit as capable as I ever was. You can finish what I couldn’t. Spend the time you need to, please get A’s. I always wanted to name a son after dad and if you could for me, I’d be thankful. You are by no means required or even expected to. Do what you want to. Pet the dog too, she’s very nice. I love you Callan. You’re a beautiful girl and going to be a stunning woman. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. Listen to dad and write down his stories cause I never could.

Sheng, Sorry I fell out of touch dude. You’re a great guy and I’m sorry that I’ll miss the parties. Make them count for me and even if it annoys you, try to take some Women and genders study classes. Tell nick I say hey (or bye I guess) as well. I’m not drunk enough to rant about politics right now, sorry. Either way, it meant more than you will ever know that you were such a good friend to me when I got back to Amherst.

Nathan- Freshman, you’re far too nice for your own good. No one dude, should be so willing to listen and talk. Sorry that I can’t give you the full story now, but I imagine the police report is funny as hell. Keep reading and do something important. Do me a favor and tell Sara Simonsson that my fake ID came in as well.

Everyone else, I’m sorry, my hand is falling off. If we were friends, remember me for at least a week or so. Please listen to what I said about sexual assault. There are millions more just like me that need help and no, someone who is drunk cannot give consent, fuckers.

Remember me however you’d like. I hope it’s a positive memory. If not, I swear to god I will haunt you. I don’t know how that works, but I figure I’ll have plenty of time to figure it out. Lead a good life, everyone.

The water looks beautiful.

♦◊♦

Thomas Francis Malone, III (Trey)

December 19, 1991 – June 17, 2012

Trey was born on St. Eustatius, Netherland Antilles. He spent his first 7 years swimming in the sea on St. Eustatius and St. Maarten. In 1999, he moved with his family to Sarasota, Florida and joined The Out-of-Door Academy community. Trey was the Valedictorian of the ODA class of 2009. An avid musician, he played the violin in the orchestra and in all of the spring musicals. As a varsity athlete, he competed as a member of the Varsity Swimming, Soccer, and Track teams. In 2009, his 4x800m relay placed 8th in the State track meet. He attended Amherst College. He was known for his wit, his intelligence, his ease, his thoughtfulness, and his kindness. For this, he will be missed by all.

If you are feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK

Related Posts:

Trey’s Mom on Why She Published the Letter

Trey’s Grandfather Speaks Out on the Lack of Campus Leadership

GMP Founder on the Ethics of Publishing a Suicide Note

An Amherst Student on Saying Good-Bye to Trey

Project Unspoken: Emory University Students Respond 

David Foster Wallace’s “Water” speech at Kenyon College

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Also Important:

Why Men Commit Suicide: 3 Warning Signs Most People Miss

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Comments

  1. Sandra Robertson says:

    Such a heartbreaking loss, a tragic end of a wonderful and talented young man. My thoughts and prayers are with Trey’s family and friends who will hold him close to their hearts for the rest of their lives. The people in charge who did nothing in regards to the crime are, in my opinion, just as guilty as the criminal. Rest in peace Trey and may God Bless You always and forever. We live in such an evil and uncaring world in this day and time; I hope the uncaring people will read Trey’s letter and maybe, just maybe some will turn their lives around and like Trey said “lead a good life.”

  2. silence is not golden it is deadly. If you see someone hurting reach out. If you see an injustice being done speak out. One pebble has a ripple effect. One hug, one smile, one word can change a life forever…

  3. I wish I had the chance to talk to or speak to trey, or the million others withholding the pain and lurking deep in the darkness. Victims of rape are greatly taken off guard by this trauma, and society’s lack of appreciation to such insult and victimizing results in the self inflected guilt & pain, and ultimately the dysfunction and/ or the suicidal idealizations in these victims.

    There is no crime as huge in proportion as sexual assault, not as being robed of materialistic things, or being held under a gun point, its rather an invasion of ones own boundaries, security & believes. thats once broken, are never easy to re-enstate. I am deeply sorry Trey we couldn’t reach you in time, even not as a society but as individuals, you seem like an excellent brought up young man, intelligent and bright with great potentials. I hope you found the peace your tired soul seeked for. and as for the others as Richard one of the commentators said ” The Heritage that is handed to you is not necessarily the Legacy you have to leave behind ! “. Suicide though may seem like a solution but its nothing but your next defeat, there is always a way out, a next door to open, and a new day to live .

    May you rest in peace Trey.
    Davi

  4. I was so very touched by Trey’s story. I too was a child of sexual abuse from the time I was a toddler until my early teens. By several men and 2 uncles. It had nothing to do with my clothing or substance abuse and everything to do with those mentally ill men. I had no one to tell, until I was older and when I confided in a family member his response was “Well, you are overly friendly!”. Really? A toddler being overly friendly?? My only peace is those men are all rotting in hell now and I have finally realized that I was not put on this earth for men to use my body.
    I will pray for your family Trey and I wish I had met you in life. As for your loved ones, stay strong and do not blame yourselves. Thank you for sharing such a horrific yet loving event in your lives.
    TC

  5. Jackie Prasad says:

    Such a beautiful yet sad letter. I hope Trey has found peace in his after life and his family has found peace knowing how many lives this letter has touched. I was raped in HS by someone I knew and as Trey said, this person will never see a jail cell because of it. My fault I guess since I didn’t speak up til years later. I kept it inside hoping that if I didn’t speak about it then it never happened. By holding it in I became a very nasty, rude person because the hurt started to eat away at the good person I was. I seeked therapy and up to this day, 11 years later i still want to see a therapist. I was suicidal and did not succeed thank God. I am sorry Trey endured this and understand the feeling of being alone. Such a young soul that I hope will forever rest in peace.

  6. A google search brought up another heart breaking story. When will this end?
    http://amherststudent.amherst.edu/?q=article/2012/10/24/personal-letter-president-martin

  7. Mary Barnes says:

    This is such a sad story and I thank his mom for letting it be published. While rape is normally done to a woman it also happens to a man and there is no help for men to talk it out and they feel bad because it is a thing that normally happens to women but there are a lo of sick people in this world and life is short and so precious and for some sick person to ruin it for someone is something I can never understand. May God be with Trey and hold him close to let him know it was not his fault.

    This happens far too often and with men it has come too light after the damage is done. For Trey to have to carry this inside and then take his own life is so sad. In this country we have so many people who have mental problems and there is no money to help them so they just lock them up but at the same time our country sends millions to other countries, our government keep giving themselves raises and they do nothing but they refuse to allot enough money for things that are important like mental health and saving lives. May God Bless this country because it is lost and too many young people are choosing to end their life because life is hard and there seems to be no where to turn. Rape is a subject that few talk about either women or men as they feel it is their fault when in fact it is the fault of the sick person who commits the rape.

  8. Judith Mantell says:

    I see nothing wrong with “taking advice ” from a man who commited suicide. He is not avocating suicide, simply stating that he no longer has what it takes to go on. I understand that. There are moments when things are so dark that you cannot see any way out or summon the energy to even keep on trying. I feel only compassion for those in that situation because I know what it feels like. There are times, perhaps only moments when you simply can NOT go on. Hopefully the person does not choose to end their life and perhaps we need some way of identifying those people earlier and find ways of helping them before they get to that place. Until one has been there, it is impossible to understand. It is almost a feeling of numbness, of a place of having no hope, no future, no way of believing that things will ever change or become any better…and one doesn’t even have the energy to do anything about it, or even wait it out. I was there some years ago and it was a miracle I survived. I had a brain aneurysm that may have contributed to my own black hole, but I will never forget the “nothing and no one matters” sense of utter isolation from everyone and everything. As this young man said in his letter, he did understand the pain his death would cause, and he understood that suicide was a permanent solution to a temporary problem; but he was utterly INCAPABLE of FEELING any of that. He understood it intellectually, but the emotions were gone. And the water was beautiful. I understand all too well where he was at. I doubt anyone who has not lived through that kind of “beyond despair” could ever understand the place he was in.One is so very very tired and only wants peace and oblivian from the pain. Even asll these years later, I cannot even relate to what was going on in my own head or reconcile the “logic”; but I do remember the utter conviction of the “solution” being my own death. It is not logical, and it is beyond feeling. One simply sees oblivian as the only way out of pain beyond bearing. Unfortunately, one is often compelled to act during that period of pain. It is utterly impossible to summon up any kind of hope or belief in a future or to even desire one while in thta state of being. And one is convinced that suicide is the only solution to a life that is without hope or joy. It is sad. What I learned was that no matter how I may ever believe that this is true, I will never again allow myself to act on my belief. Hopefully I will never again be in such a state. For those that are in it right now, I can tell you to wait…that things will change, your life does matter and you will have light there again. It all takes time. It also takes moving out of yourself and moving into helping others, something you cannot even imagine summoning up the energy to do. Do it in spite of yourself. Do it because you need to do something good with the awful place you are in. Do it because you have nothing else to do and because what is left of your life might as well serve some good, even if you don’t believe it or even care. Make your life matter, if only in this moment in time. Volunteer at an animal shelter, a hospital, a soup kitchen. Force yourself out there. You can always die later, but you can only live now. Give something back before you go and you may discover that the giving is more important than the dying. After all, what do you have to lose? Thank you for sharing Trey’s letter. He is such a beautiful young man and I am so very sorry he is not still in the same world. But his words will resonate in many of us and perhaps some other hurting soul will benefit from them.

  9. Squeeks910 says:

    This was a very moving story and Trey’s note moved me to tears…..I cannot even imagine the pain this young man encountered mentally and physically. My love and prayers go to the Malone Family and Friends.

  10. I will be short. I feel a lot of pain for the family especialy Tray’s mother as I lost my son to suicide 5 years ago and I am still going through grief pain to get to the other side when I will be able to smile again. Tray was a wonderful, sensitive young man. His parting was a great loss. He did not die of suicide, he died of depression and the horrific abuse. Permanent solution for a temporary problem, what a joke! My son fought against depresion and pain for 20 years, is that a temporary problem? If you are reaidng this and thinking sucide, please go to the mental health professionals that use Dialectic Behavior Therapy and Mindfulness therapy. It will take time and trial and error, I understand that you are tired of everything, but please try for a litle while longer and talk to your family and friends, adopt a pet, do suzuku, it makes the barrier against painful thoughts. I hope the society will start helping people with mental illness as they are helping cancer victims. Your son loved you. Love him back by healing yourself. Love and Light, Mira

  11. I get so sad when I read Trey’s letter. I’ve be raped twice with the 2nd assault producing a child. Trey definitely had his statistics right, however because of the lack of help society has lost a man who would’ve gone very far in life! As strange as this may sound, I felt a connection to this wonderful young man as I was reading his letter. To Trey’s family, thank you so much for allowing your son’s letter to be published and I would like to get more awareness to this subject for Trey so all of us who’ve been raped can get the justice we deserve without being badgered with questions like “what were you wearing?” & “how much did you have to drink?” I was asked the questions BOTH times I was on the stand. The first time around I was only 15! And I was stone cold sober when both attacks happened. The 2nd attack happened when I was 21 & I after months of contemplation decided to keep my baby.
    For all of the victims out there, let’s get started on efforts to make this problem as big as breast cancer awareness! It would be a fantastic way to keep Trey’s spirit alive as well as provide a safe place for victims to turn to for support! If anyone has ideas or would like to get a grassrootss effort started, just reply to this post & I will get it via email. ♡2 all.

    • Kim, I have had a very similar experience as you and Trey. Being raped more than once, and once on a college campus that did little to help. I would love to get an effort started and change the conversation on rape, sexual and domestic assault in this country (think globally, act locally). Let’s start a Google group or something like that to further communicate. When we hear about stories such as Trey’s and when we experience similar traumas the best thing to do is become advocates for those similar to us.

      • Hi Tiff,
        Not sure if you are on Facebook but there is an amazing Facebook page called SlutWalk. Don’t let the name throw you…it’s foundation is built on trying to change society’s belief that how a person dresses, acts or behaves etc is responsible for creating a rapist. It’s desire is to help raise awareness on victim blaming. I found this article about Trey from there and many others which you might find is what your looking for in a group awareness site.
        My heart goes out to the Trey’s family….rest in peace Trey.

    • The latest data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that 38,364 suicide deaths were reported in the U.S. in 2010. This latest rise places suicide again as the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. Nationally, the suicide rate increased 3.9 percent over 2009 to equal approximately 12.4 suicides per 100,000 people. The rate of suicide has been increasing since 2000. This is the highest rate of suicide in 15 years.

      The Japanese report didn’t calculate the 2010 suicide rate, but its statistics combined with last year’s population report indicate it would be 25 per 100,000.

      Having established a base on which to measure where the U.S. stands with regard to suicide, I would cite that suicide in Japan and other Eastern cultures is viewed as an honorable way to die. The Odinists believe that it is more honorable to die in battle than to die from illness. While out there beyond the front door, how many Americans are afraid of dying alone? The Koran, followed by so many, teaches a view of suicide that conflicts with that which is taught and reinforced by omission and commission here in America.

      My point is that I believe many Americans have bought into the hype that not just life but, American life is just so precious—400 channels on cable TV and Subway, McDonald’s and Pizza Hut. Budweiser and the NFL. Oh! we can even legally smoke weed now.

      It freaks the average person out when these things are not enough, and it even enrages some when a person rejects “All of This” by choosing to opt out. How many American’s fill the ranks of the living dead, high on cocaine, zonked out on meth, and nodding on heroine? How many spend an entire weekly paycheck drinking, tipping the dancers, and gambling every Friday and Saturday night? It gets old. And if a guy or girl discovers the “Man behind the Curtain” and this guy or girl wants out, then they should be welcomed to go in peace.

      Death is death and a person who chooses suicide is gone nonetheless. I just believe it leaves American society by in large feeling a little rejected, a little foolish for not discussing the elephant in the room— that life, even here in America, ain’t always “All That and a Bag of Chips.”

      I know. I know. Somebody is going to say, “That’s crazy talk.”

      • Peter von Maidenberg says:

        Yep. Suicide is always going to be a first-world problem – wherever, whenever, and whatever the reason. We’re Americans. Violence is not something we want to look at head-on, because we know how much our civilization needs it.

      • No it’s not crazy talk. But you did miss THE WHOLE ENTIRE POINT of the letter now didn’t you? “American thinking” as you would say needs to change when you’re dealing with sexual assualt AT ANY LEVEL. If women in today’s society still get questioned by authorities that make them feel like it was their fault for being sexually assaulted, there is NO HOPE for the men who are victims. Like I said before to people….YOU HAVE NO IDEA what it is like to be assaulted unless YOU YOURSELF HAVE GONE THROUGH IT!
        So you can take your “teachings & stats” and flush them. Try reading Trey’s letter again without the stats & teachings you mentioned but from the perspective of a young man who was violated in the worst way imaginable & felt all alone because nobody of authority at the school would do anything. Those people at the school had no right to try & cover up what happened to this young man.
        So as you can see, not all of us agree with “American thinking” or the American way as others would say.
        I can’t speak for other victims only myself & I can tell you that being raped can be a very lonely place.

    • Please contact me to help.

  12. VERY powerful letter. Unfortunately, the need to “cover up” sexual assault seems to run rampant in college administrations. Here’s an idea Dean of schools, if a student comes to you saying they have been sexually assaulted, forgo your little internal discipline hearing and freaking call 911.

  13. Thank you so much for sharing this. People need to hear what it’s like from the victim’s point of view. How much pressure can be put on them to stay silent, get over it, or to convince them it was their own fault, instead of listening and giving them justice. People need to realise that men are raped too, and are no less harmed by it.

  14. OMGod/dess, I pray… may this young man’s soul and the souls of his friends/family find peace… may those he left behind in this lifetime seek justice, and may they find it swiftly… may their efforts save the hearts and lives of others who also are victims of such brutality, although they could not save their own beloved… and may his last words ring in the hearts and minds of those of us who would have stood with him, had we only been aware.

    Trey, I wish I had known you. I wish I could have helped you. I will fight for others who suffer as you did, and will do so in your memory. Be blessed, and be at peace. Namaste, brother.

    For Trey:

    http://wiccanwoman.wordpress.com/2012/11/16/sexual-abuse-has-no-gender/

  15. I just read his letter, and I just would like to say that I cannot even fathom the pain that he, his parents, and his buddies must have. My heart just goes out to him as well as the rest of you for that. I haven’t lived in this area for long, but I now live in Amherst. I’m from Mississippi. I believe he will be waiting for y’all when it’s your time. He’ll give you little signs that you may not recognize at first, but he’ll be there with you. Wow, I’m so sorry for your pain. As well as his. Best wishes to you all.

  16. I’m deeply touched by the comments here. God Bless you all. Never stop talking about it. Below is the lin kfrom another man who society has tossed aside and abandoned.

    http://corruptcourts.us/Last%20statement%20sent%20to%20Sentinel%20from%20self.doc

    We’re SO ignorant about pain others experience.

  17. I’ll link to this re-published, full-note on a couple of heavily engaged rape survivor sites. There is no improving upon Trey’s message or intent. No one could paint the real pain, the reality of pain, and the uselessness of this planted in any improved clarity.

    I hope his letter hurts the uninvolved like blood hell. I hope The Normals begin to see what they continually mock and ignore – sometimes with a chuckle. All foolish and frivolous Normals truly ought to take heed. Those who feel and think they and their’s are exempt…forever exempt…exempt by nature of your intellect, your position, your parent-craft…you are not. No one is exempt nor immune from your children being targeted and devoured.

    My love to those victims lacking the strength to carry on. No victim ought ever be scorned for stepping-out of this pain in any way they choose.

  18. While I feel and his family and for victims of rape, I have known women and men who were rapists,but telling people that they have to be feminists to understand or have empathy for rape victims is just not true. I don’t have to read what anyone writes or says or preaches, or tells me I should believe to know that certain things are wrong. Good Lord, feminists are not the only people that are sensitive and empathic and some of them are not either of those qualities.

  19. That image is a dead ringer of Matthew McConaughey.

  20. so he got drunk and found out he was gay so he killed himself. seems like there should be more support for gays rather than all this rape blaming

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