Today I’ll be attending the memorial service for Satish Singh. Tragically, he took his own life on Monday. The family has requested donations to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in lieu of flowers.
I wasn’t very close to Satish, although I would definitely call him my friend. I worked with him at Dell, and then we’d always reconnect and work together again as big tech events came up, either in Austin or the big events this community always attends (Dell World and EMC World, which are now combined, and VMworld). He was active in the Dell EMC Elect slack as well.
That’s how most of us in this online communities are connected…we chat online and see each other in bloggers lounges once a year, maybe more if we’re lucky.
And those of us who have always been involved in managing and guiding communities have a special bond. We are driven to connect people so that they can have a voice, so that the work they do can be acknowledged, and that their efforts can make things easier for the next person.
Most of us have been doing community management for a long time, much longer than it has been fashionable or profitable. It is a ton of emotional work, so connecting in real time with others who “get it” is a necessity for our mental health.
For some reason, everyone was running late. Satish was rounding up the troops because I was so worried no one would show. He kept telling me it was going to be great!
That is my memory of him. He was a kind, generous man, he was honestly a really good guy. I never saw him overly flustered, never heard him talk bad about anyone. I’m personally having a hard time wrapping my head around this — why Satish? Why didn’t we see it? Why couldn’t I have done something to let him know how much we need more people like him in this world?
Mental Health and our Community
Satish’s death has made me really think about our community, and mental health. Our entire world, from our industry to politics to the weather, is in a state of change. How do we navigate change at this rate? I feel like that is the power of our communities. It is a place to talk about all of the challenges we face with others who are facing the same things.
Without these online communities, how would we be able to continue on in this constant state of change? We need each other. Real connections and true friendships are forged in these communities, between people who are separated by oceans and mountains and time zones. How would we have found each other without these communities?
So what do we do when someone gets separated from the pack, and decides they can’t go on? I’m not really sure, to be honest. I just don’t want anyone else to feel this way, and to see death as the only way out.
How do we mourn this as a community? First of all, mourn the loss of this man, even if you didn’t know him well. Understand that the reasons that drive people to take their own lives may never be known or understood. My family and friend from other communities have helped me make sense of things. This Harvard Health article has some great advice for making sense of this as well.
So what do we do now?
First and foremost, let’s remember Satish. He was a great guy, a very nice man. Share your pictures of him, share your stories. If you are able, please make a donation in Satish’s name to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The Dell EMC Elect are discussing what we can do to honor Satish in a more formal way as well.
We need an open discussion on mental health and suicide. Our community has been impacted by it, I know I’m not the only one in disbelief and pain. I also know I’m not the only one who has been low enough to consider that option.
If you need help, reach out to one of us. Reach out to me. If you aren’t ok with doing that, call the Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255.
These communities were created and forged in the spirit of supporting one another. I don’t want to lose anyone else.
Rest in peace Satish.