Rachel Bryk, a developer of the Dolphin emulator, reportedly killed herself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River on April 23. She was 23-years-old.
Bryk was a well-known figure in many social media and gaming circles due to her work, and these same communities mourned her death. Those who worked with her at Dolphin described her as a hard worker and someone who tried to make the software better by doing work that no one else really wanted to do. A post on the software’s website said that despite her early inexperience, she quickly became a valuable member of the team.
“She often would do a lot of the drudge work that no one else would do and attempt features that no one else had time to work on. Much of her time in Dolphin was dedicated to giving TASers the tools they needed to be able to make ridiculous videos pushing games to and past their absolute limits. Without her dedicated work, it’s very likely that Wiimote TASing would not have become stable enough for general usage as it is now. She was also responsible for improvements in savestates, netplay, the user interface, configuration, and more.”
According to her friends, she suffered from chronic pain due to fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis, and this pain was given as a reason for Rachel’s decision to end her life. Eyewitness reports of her suicide were confirmed by a scheduled tweet on her account that said “Guess I am dead. Killed myself. Sorry.”
But as reports of her death spread, something else came to light: the abuse and bullying she had experienced online.
Rachel Bryk was a transgender female, and because this was well known, it unfortunately made her the target of plenty of transphobic comments. These types of comments continued even as she expressed her desire to commit suicide, and after her death was reported. On one 4chan forum she explained that the constant transphobia was why she had stopped posting, then finished by saying she was going to end her life. In response, many users egged her on.
“DO IT, if you’re such a weak willed thin skinned dips**t then f**king do it.”
“Good riddance” said at least two other posts.
Bryk’s pain is cited by her friends as the primary reason for her decision, but the types of comments she received cannot be ignored. Transgender individuals are nine times more likely than the national average to attempt suicide — 41 percent will attempt it at least once in their lifetime. The types of comments Bryk received are what many transgender people will experience as an unfortunately common part of their lives.
But the most important discussion now is of Bryk herself, who she was and everything she did for others. Though still quite young, she had a meaningful impact on many people’s lives, and that’s the way she will and should be remembered.
“Rachel was more than just a great programmer. She was a great programmer who always managed to put a smile on my face. I don’t think that there ever will be anyone else quite like her. Rest in peace,” wrote Stevoisiak, a former colleague.
A date for Rachel Bryk’s funeral has not yet been planned. As of this report, her body has not yet been found.
[Photo by Dolphin Emulator]