Reddit's wrongful death lawsuit likely a hoax
A woman claiming that redditors drove her brother to kill himself has caused an uproar that’s already extended beyond the realm of Reddit, being reported by several prominent news sites.
However, according to police, her facts don't check out.
Wednesday evening, a redditor calling herself sisterofblackvisions made an awful claim: Her brother, who used the screen name Black_Visions, killed himself in March. The reason, she said, is that other users on the site shamed him for his purported misogyny and directly told him to kill himself.
“Our family has decided to take legal action” against “those who urged him to take his own life,” wrote sisterofblackvisions, adding that she goes by “Sandy” in real life. “Next week, our lawyer will be filing a wrongful death suit in Washington State against nine individuals.”
As part of that suit, she claimed, she filed subpoenas to find the real identities of those who most influenced her brother. That led to several news reports about the scandal. (Reddit declined to comment.)
“Nine reddit users could be slapped with wrongful death suit in suicide case," proclaimed The Next Web.
“Reddit Cited In Wrongful Death Lawsuit: Suicide Post From User Was Real,” wrote the International Business Times.
Both sources take “Sandy” at her word. Her most compelling evidence is that Black_Visions, who she said was 51 and went by Jerry in real life, “jumped to his death from the 8th floor of a hotel in Washington State.”
Multiple redditors found what seemed to be confirmation: News reports say an unnamed 51-year-old man jumped from a Doubletree hotel in Tukwila, Wash. on March 13, which is around the time sisterofblackvisions says her brother died.
However, Mike Murphy, a representative for the Seattle Police Department (SPD), told the Daily Dot that the man who jumped from the Doubletree was unequivocally not the man sisterofblackvisions described.
First, she referred to him as “Jerry.” While the SPD refused to release the man’s full name without his family’s permission, the representative said bluntly, “It’s not Jerry.”
Even if that was a strange nickname she kept for her brother, almost none of sisterofblackvisions’s other details check out with the SPD. She said he had an ex-wife and a disabled daughter, and that he killed himself after redditors shamed him for supporting men’s rights.
The man who jumped from the Doubletree never married, Murphy said. He had no ex-wife, no daughter. Detectives on his case think he killed himself because of a long history of illness.
“That appears to be the only motivation,” Murphy said.
It is technically possible, however implausible, that sisterofblackvisions’s story is true. Perhaps her brother is a different 51-year-old man who jumped off the eighth floor of a different hotel in Washington in mid-March.
She didn’t respond to request for comment. As of Thursday, her account had still only posted that one time.
Photo by Tony Webster