Ashley Madison hack lead to suicide for one pastor, but his wife sees things differently

The wife of a New Orleans pastor who was outed as an Ashley Madison user has announced his suicide.

Baptist pastor and seminary teacher John Gibson killed himself at home on August 24. He left a note detailing his shame and depression in the wake of the Ashley Madison hack, his wife Christi Gibson and her two college-student children, Callie and Trey, told CNNMoney on Tuesday.

“We all have things that we struggle with, but it wasn’t so bad that we wouldn’t have forgiven it,” Gibson told CNNMoney. “And so many people have said that to us. But for John, it carried with him such a shame. And he just, he couldn’t see that.”

Over 30 million users of the infidelity dating site were outed as a result of the hack. Police say at least three other suicides, in Texas and Toronto, are said to have potential links to the data breach.

“These were real people, with real families and real pain,” Christi Gibson told CNNMoney. “It’s not funny. It’s not a source of salacious gossip.”

Gibson’s son Trey announced the circumstances of his father’s death on Tuesday during a chapel service on the campus of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary—where the family lived and John Gibson worked as a teacher—according to Louisiana’s Baptist Message. Before the cause of death was announced publicly, a campus memorial service for Gibson was held on August 28.

According to the seminary’s Gatekeeper blog, Gibson was “the quintessential good neighbor” who ran a sort of free campus body shop—repairing student cars for free and refusing to accept money for parts or labor.

Christi Gibson had a clear message of forgiveness and hope for other Ashley Madison users thrown into panic by the data leak—those who might be considering the fate chosen by her husband.

“Don’t underestimate the power of love,” said Gibson. “Nothing… nothing is worth the loss of a father and a husband and a friend. It just didn’t merit it. It didn’t merit it at all.”

For more information about suicide prevention or to speak with someone confidentially, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (U.S.) or Samaritans (U.K.). 

H/T CNNMoney

Photo via eflon/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Fernando Alfonso III

Mary Emily O'Hara

Mary Emily O'Hara

Mary Emily O'Hara is an LGBTQ reporter. Her work has appeared in Rolling Stone, NBC Out, Daily Dot, Broadly, Vice, the Daily Beast, the Advocate, Huffington Post, DNAinfo, Al Jazeera, and Portland's Pulitzer Prize-winning newsweekly Willamette Week, among other outlets.