Today, just a few hours ago, the world tragically lost Trey Pennington when he committed suicide outside the steps of a church in his home state of South Carolina. Trey was a marketer and a social media consultant, with some 110,000+ followers on Twitter. Trey was also a top-rated speaker at LikeableU, our conference we held in June, where I was able to get to know him a bit. But most important, Trey was a father to six children that he leaves behind in this untimely death.
There are two takeaways that keep coming back to me during this time of grief:
1) If you are depressed, as Trey was, PLEASE seek professional help. If you ever consider suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline immediately at 800.273.8255 or online.
2) Love the ones you're with, day in and day out, offline, in "real life." I've met an awful lot of people online throughout the last few years of our social media age. I've learned a lot from thousands of people on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn. I've gotten to know a great deal of people who I'd never have had the opportunity to get to know before social media. And they've gotten to know me as well. But the truth is, nobody knows me as well as my offline friends and family, and I don't know my online friends and followers quite as well as I know my offline friends and family.
Trey Pennington had over 100,000 friends on Twitter and Facebook, and I was one of them. Yet he still felt lonely and depressed. No matter how real and vulnerable we are online, we cannot connect as deeply as we can connect with our offline friends and family.
I believe strongly in the power of social media to connect people to each other and to companies, non-profits and even governments. But Trey's passing is a reminder to me of how important it is to connect with and love the people in my offline life.
With thoughts and prayers for Trey's family, I'm off to snuggle my beautiful wife and girls. -Dave