Gaming communities are mourning the death of prominent transgender game developer Rachel Bryk, who committed suicide on April 23. Bryk, 23, was plagued by chronic pain, which she told friends was a result of rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. She took her own life by jumping from the George Washington Bridge, which connects Manhattan to New Jersey, something she discussed on social media platform ask.fm in the days before her death.
Over the past two years, Bryk had become one of the most prominent game developers on a software project called Dolphin. She was well-known for her work on Gamecube and Wii emulators—her favorite being Pucca’s Kisses. Despite her beloved status in online gaming communities, Bryk commented on a popular 4chan forum that she was withdrawing from various sites because she suffered constant, trans-phobic harassment. After her death, word quickly spread throughout these communities, and forums were flooded with memorial posts in her honor, and tributes to her work and collaborative nature.
What prompted Bryk’s final decision to take her own life remains unclear. Friends have contacted Vocativ suggesting that her chronic pain may have been a factor, and despite the respect she earned in the gaming community, Bryk wrangled with depression. Just days before her death, the online harrassment she had been subjected to for months took a more direct form. Commenters mocked her suicidal comments, saying “jumping off a bridge isn’t rocket science.” The last note from a commenter, simply said “Good Riddance”, to which she replied: “Yeah pretty much.”
Gamers across the world were deeply saddened by the news, and many have used this tragedy to discuss the dangers of transphobia in online communities. One former colleague from Dolphin commented: “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.”