A 16-year-old girl who once tweeted, "The fact that suicide is an actual option for some people is what really breaks my heart," took her own life Monday night after posting a farewell video on YouTube.
"I’m doing literally the whole world a favor," Maddie Yates said at the end of the 3-minute video, according to a transcript posted by BuzzFeed. "But I love you, and I’m sorry. And I really, really love you."
No Maddie it wasn't a favor at all. You meant the absolute world to me.
— Adam VanRude (@AVanrude) April 15, 2014
The student at Louisville's Male High School explains on-camera that she'd been treated for anxiety and depression and been prescribed Prozac. "But I’ve been like this for so long, and there’s still a chance that the worst day might still be coming. And I just don’t see how this is a bad idea."
The heartbreaking video has been taken down from YouTube, but had been viewed more than 10,000 times before it was removed almost 24 hours after it was posted, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. Many of those views apparently came from classmates and other Louisville-area students who found and began sharing the self-described "YouTube obsessed" teen's final message.
After that video I look at life totally different.
— Nelson (@TheKid_Nelson) April 15, 2014
Thank you to everyone who came up to me and asked if i was okay or gave me a hug or even texted. It really meant a lot to me. I love you all
— Jameisha. (@_HeilMeesh) April 15, 2014
However, before it was removed from the site, Jefferson County Public Schools took the extraordinary step Tuesday of blocking access to YouTube and Twitter throughout the district. "This was an effort to ensure that students who are emotionally impacted could get the help they needed as we worked with officials to address the situation through the most appropriate and efficient channels," the district said in a statement.
Thank god, they took the video down.
— Robby Bernardi (@bernardi_party) April 15, 2014
Access to the sites was restored several hours later, though any student with a smartphone wasn't impacted anyway and could have used their cell service to visit Twitter or YouTube. Still, the district used what tools they had available to limit exposure to a video they considered potentially harmful.
Anyone who knew Maddie knew she always had the biggest smile on her face! Always laughing and giggling. Such a sweet soul, gone too soon.
— Destinee Germany (@_dgerms) April 15, 2014
Read more: At some schools, 'Big Brother' is watching
One student's father was among those who disagreed with the decision though, telling the Courier-Journal that, "Trying to ignore what happened isn't going to help anyone. But the way I see it, the missed opportunity from [the school district] means that it's now an opportunity for parents to re-engage with their kids about this very serious issue."
There is support to be found for trying to block access to the video in suicide research, which has found that children who have been exposed to suicide are at greater risk of attempting it themselves. To help classmates deal with their loss, Male High School also provided 20 grief counselors for students to meet and speak with.
Talking to therapist after therapist doesn't help, each one just tells me the same exact thing.
— Robby Bernardi (@bernardi_party) April 15, 2014
I need someone , but I don't want to talk .. because when I talk, I remember. when I remember, I cry. when I cry, I can't stop...
— nykki (@nykks_) April 15, 2014
While Twitter was used as a vehicle for sharing Yates' video suicide note, her friends have also been using it since Monday night to express their grief and speak out on the tragedy. We've been sharing many of those tweets throughout this article.
Maddie Yates herself was very active online, too. Under the username "makeupobsessions2921," she'd posted eight YouTube videos with her own beauty tips and chatty, upbeat commentary.
Though in a "Back to School" video posted in July 2012, Yates addressed incoming high schoolers for 9 minutes on the importance of acceptance. At one point, she advised, "Everyone gets in a dark place some time in life. But, whenever you do, just… I don’t know. Just, you’re not alone I guess. When you’re in high school the only thing you can do is just accept yourself."
On the literary community site Booksie, Yates revealed a different side. In her profile, she wrote, "people make life seem alot bigger than it really is. You wake up, pee, survive the day, and go to sleep dreaming about how you are gonna die a lone."
She then includes this quote, attributed to comedian Doug Stanhope: "Life is like a movie, if you've sat through more than half of it and its sucked every second so far, it probably isn't gonna get great right at the end and make it all worthwhile. None should blame you for walking out early."
But if people who killed themselves could just see how everyone loved them, then maybe they'd take back what they did. But they can't.
— Maddie Yates (@maddie_yates_) April 14, 2013
Follow Jonathan Anker on Twitter @JonFromHLN