After being arrested for possession of child pornography, a man committed suicide yesterday. We can only speculate why he would commit such a desperate act. Was it because he was also charged with “exchanging sexually explicit messages with a teen in California”? Was it because he was a member of law enforcement, a deputy sheriff in Florida?
It is likely that we will never know his reason why.
What we do know, however, is that many others have chosen the same path. That is, many men have committed suicide because they could not or would not live their lives burdened by the label “sex offender”.
These extreme acts are to be viewed with compassion and understanding. For the people who committed them – our brothers, sons, nephews and husbands — did so because of the extreme duress borne by each and every person whose name, photo and home address are posted on a sex offender registry.
Their duress comes in many forms – underemployment or unemployment, homelessness, isolation from family, social stigma and/or vigilante violence.
Suicide under these circumstances is understandable. However, we cannot and should not sit idly by. Instead, it’s up to us to change these circumstances, to give men who have already paid their debt to society what they deserve — an opportunity to live in peace, to enjoy their families and to contribute their talents to society.
It’s up to us to Show Up – Stand Up – Speak Up. There are many opportunities to do so during the next month as we oppose legislation in Sacramento on June 21 and June 28, educate ourselves in Los Angeles on July 16 and protest the International Megan’s Law in Oakland on July 27. Please join us by honoring those who have fallen as well as providing a better life for those who remain.