Dolphin developer, Rachel Bryk, threw herself off the George Washington Bridge last Thursday, April 23. She was 23 years old when she died.
Rachel Bryk was the tenth most active contributor to the popular Wii emulator, Dolphin. According to a statement released by the Dolphin team, she developed tools for speed runners to use and did the “drudge work” other developers either didn’t want or didn’t have time for. Her friends and fellow developers shared their thoughts in the commemoration.
“I didn’t just lose another programmer who happened to work on the same project as me – I lost a best friend. I’ll never forget you.” –Lioncash
According to NJ.com, Rachel suffered from fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis, two painful neurological diseases. NJ.com writes that her condition caused her to drop out of school because sitting still in class was too painful for her. The diseases also prevented her from getting a job to pay for school. Rachel was denied Social Security benefits last year.
“She was in dire pain,” says Roger Bryk, Rachel’s father. “She would never complain about it, unless it got really bad.”
In addition to experiencing incredible physical pain, Bryk was harassed online due to being transgendered. She posted on the ‘/vg/’ message board (for video games) of 4chan.org before her death.
“There’s not constant transphobia on reddit any time i post, or someone mentions me, like there is here,” she writes in her message. “The rest of you don’t have to worry though, i’m gonna kill myself soon enough and you won’t have to be bothered by me anymore.”
Several replies to the message encouraged Bryk to follow through with her planned suicide.
However, Rachel’s cousin, Fiona Kyle, says the internet was a positive place for Rachel. It was a place where she could spend time with people who shared her interests and speak about things she couldn’t in the real world. Both Kyle and Roger Bryk say Rachel was strong and wouldn’t allow online harassment to drive her to suicide. But with with her neurological diseases stacked on top of that, everything became too much.
“She really did find her support through the gaming community,” says Kyle.
Through the gaming community, Rachel was able to help people. A fellow developer of Dolphin, MaJoR, writes, “No matter what, she was always willing to help anyone. Of all the devs she was the most helpful on the forums, always pitching in. Dolphin is a smaller place without her.”
“She gave so much joy to people through her contributions,” says Kyle. “It will live on after her and that’s really powerful.”
Roger Bryk, says he had no idea Rachel’s work had affected so many people. He says it makes him happy to read people’s comments and see people who use her work. He says even his nephew used Dolphin and didn’t know Rachel helped make it.
Roger Bryk, told NJ.com he wishes someone had done something to stop her. He says someone should have contacted the police. Rachel’s girlfriend told her parents that she knew of Rachel’s intentions beforehand.
“We didn’t know how bad it was for her and we didn’t know she was suicidal,” says Lisa Bryk, Rachel’s mother in an interview with the Asbury Park Press. “People online knew. They all knew. But we had no idea.”
“To have no one reach out to the family or the authorities is hard to bear,” says Fiona Kyle.
If you, or someone you know, is struggling or having suicidal thoughts, please call someone.
Fiona Kyle has started a memorial fund to help pay for all the expenses that are involved with death. If you would like to support her family, you can donate on their page here.
UPDATE: This article was edited to include interviews from Roger Bryk and Fiona Kyle.