Aaron Mitchell Deserves Our Empathy
What we don't know is why he did it. Period.
We don't know if he intentionally committed suicide in front of a large crowd, or if he had a spontaneous psychotic breakdown.
We don't know if he was on drugs, and if he was, we don't know if they contributed to this event, or whether he took said drugs intentionally. It's not like nobody's ever been dosed without consent, right?
Nobody knows, and anyone asserting they do is full of shit. All I see is utterly baseless speculation, depressingly frequently used to attack a dead man, sometimes even in venues where his family is reading what's written.
Because I know that at least one of his immediate family members will read this, I'm not going to quote anything attacking Mr. Mitchell. In summary though, I've seen many people in the community posting things accusing him of being a selfish jerk for doing this in view of others (including the rangers and firefighters who tried and failed to stop him) and traumatizing them, and/or accusing him of damaging their burn and future burns.
If you're traumatized by watching a man run into a raging fire, I think that's understandable. I'm glad I didn't witness it. However, lashing out at him is really not ok. You have no idea why he did it. You have no idea if he was of sound mind at the time. Unless you know otherwise (and you don't), the only appropriate response is empathy, for him and the terrible way in which he died, and most of all, for his family. And frankly, if he was of sound mind, I think I feel even worse for him. What kind of pain and suffering must he have endured to be willing to run into a fire and try to burn to death?
And imagine what it must feel like to have your husband or brother or son cross an ocean and a continent to get to an event that he, like nearly all birgins, was eagerly anticipating. You give him a hug and send him on his way, looking forward to the stories he'll have to tell.
And then you get a call that you never want to get. A voice on the line tells you that your husband, your brother, your son is dead. Not just that, but you see pictures of him just as he was running into the raging fire that would kill him spread all over the internet.
Then it only gets worse, when people on the internet start attacking your brother, your son, your husband. Talk about driving the knife home.
Think about that before you decide to throw empathy to the wind and convict the man based on nothing but speculation. Please. Let's be better.
I want to include these words from his sibling, Micah, who said this about Mr. Mitchell on a reddit thread I had posted:
"Joel was my brother. I don't want to share to much at the moment but I do want to let the world know how much he cared and loved every single person on this planet. He was the kind of man who would give you the shirt off his back, his meal before he had taken a bite, or the last dollar in his wallet (these are actually things I saw him do first hand). He was truly selfless, humble, compassionate, and cared about everyone. He only knew love and nothing else."
Now, for those whose petty complaint is that he 'ruined' the Temple burn the next night, or that the burns will be different going forward because there may be a fence or a wider perimeter or whatever, I have this for you:
9/5/2017 11:45:29 am
9/5/2017 01:32:34 pm
Very kind & honest words. Thank you for taking the time to care & share!
9/7/2017 12:40:41 am
My heart is with yours.
9/5/2017 04:39:41 pm
Well said. I was there and I did witness him running into the fire. It was very difficult to actually process what was really happening. I am praying for him and for his family May God welcome him home ......
9/5/2017 10:27:57 pm
Amen! That is what he truly deserves from us is prayers for his eternal peace ❤.
9/9/2017 07:38:18 am
9/16/2017 08:23:21 am
I was there too & understand what you wrote as it was like that for me & my camp mates who were right there & clearly saw his face just prior as he spoke with Rangers.
9/5/2017 06:38:31 pm
Thank you for this. We can't know other's silent struggles day in and day out, though we all each and everyone of us have our stretches of time lived in quiet desperation. On hearing of his death, I felt such sadness, horror, and compassion for him and those who witnessed this. Of all the possible responses to a tragic event, why is the first trigger judgement, or as a victim? Please ask yourselves so we may learn to be kinder or simply accepting of the unknowables, and committing to working wisely in the face of unknowables. Great piece.
9/6/2017 11:59:36 pm
Thank you Scott, you understand what I'm trying to convey. I'm not bashing burning man, nor am I bashing experimental and exploritory drug use. I'm just sick and tired of people not accepting responsibility. I made the same choices, I did the same drugs, and when I messed up, they were my mistakes, and I wasn't a victim of anything or anyone. I appreciate you finding better words to put it in though, as you said, I'm kind of a blunt guy. Not trying to be mean, just a straight shooter.
9/9/2017 07:38:58 am
9/5/2017 11:39:13 pm
My condolences to the family, who are the only innocent party in this. This article baffled me. There was a lot of deflection from what almost anyone not living under a rock can safely presume. Was he on drugs? That's a 99.9% yes. It's burning man, and he ran into an inferno in front of tens of thousands of people. What he did was incredibly selfish and self-centered if he wasn't on drugs or severely mentally ill, however the opinions from his own family show that he was not ill, hence their "shock". This should serve as a reminder that if people are going to do insane amounts of drugs, there are sometimes consequences. Grow up people, and start taking responsibility for your actions like adults. If you take mind altering drugs, there is always a chance you will put yourself in harm's way. I used substances for many years of my life. I enjoyed it and don't regret it, however I don't try to avoid responsibility for my actions or the potential dangers I put myself and others in when I did so.
9/6/2017 08:55:05 am
I've gone four years now, and each time I have not been under the influence of any non-prescription drugs. I don't drink alcohol. I don't participate in copious amounts of meaningless sex (even while single). Not everyone is a stereotype.
9/6/2017 09:51:36 am
9/6/2017 02:48:14 pm
Yes, well that makes you the 1% doesn't it? That's the exact problem I have with this whole waste of an article. It avoids reasonable accountability because of the 1% chance this 40 year old man at Burning Man was not on any substances, or drugged against his will, which is an absurd hypothetical given the nature of what he did. I remember a time on lsd where I thought I could jump great distances, and had my friends not tackled me, I would have tried to jump over a 20 foot chasm at a local bouldering crag near my hometown. This is just one example of some of the crazy ideas and beliefs we get in our heads while experiencing psychoactive substances, and if you are being honest with yourselves you know this is true. So I'm just asking people to be realistic and to stop justifying this accident, because it wasn't 100% accidental if we are honest with ourselves, and it's Mitchell's family, and all the people who had to witness this, who are the real victims here. I'm just asking people to not pass the buck and accept responsibility, fun drugs are fun, but they can have dire consequences, and it's a risk we each take willingly, so he is not a victim of anything but his own will
9/6/2017 03:14:10 pm
Did you even bother to read the post? Or are you too stupid to understand it?
9/6/2017 04:54:54 pm
Yes John, I did read the article, which is exactly why I have a problem with it. What's your point? This article throws out the overwhelmingly likely scenario that he intentionally took drugs and messed up in a major way, and replaces it with an extremely unlikely scenario of saying maybe he was sober or he was dosed against his will, in an attempt to deflect any personal responsibility from his actions. Face reality man, he was almost certainly on drugs when he did this, it's an absolutely insane action to take, burning yourself alive in front of the masses. His family was shocked because they said he showed no signs of being unhappy, no history of mental illness. And I'm sorry but last I checked there hasn't been a rise in 40 year old men getting dosed against their will. So if we accept the glaring truth, that he was probably high by his own free will like almost everyone else there, it's not an accident. He took a risk, as we all do when we take powerful drugs, and in exchange for a fun time and memorable experience there is a certain amount of risk involved. He just so happened to be the one to go too far. Now his wife is a widow, and his parents have to bury their son, because of a choice and risk that he took. Aaron Mitchell is NOT a victim. Save that term for real victims please, people who didn't put themselves in harm's way, like his family who will suffer for the rest of their lives now.
9/6/2017 06:19:38 pm
You don't know, and you pretend you think you DO know, is the utmost in condescending bullshit. Your tirade against drug use is inappropriate here. You say the family is innocent, but all you are doing is heaping blame upon blame for the person they loved and lost. Tell me how that is serving to not put them through worse hell than they already are going through?
9/6/2017 06:47:14 pm
One time burner
9/6/2017 07:43:45 pm
Kevin... you sir is an asshole who more than likely will die alone because your a bitch. I'm betting that you live at home with your mom. Just from your comments I know that your lonely and have no friends. Your buddies from the past should of done the world some good and let you jump. Instead of hugging your cock shape pillow tonight, kill yourself.
9/6/2017 07:51:12 pm
Jade, first off, my "tirade" isn't against drug use, it's against being delusional. I greatly enjoyed my years experimenting with things like LSD and the lot. I'm just against this mob mentality of lack of responsibility. Everyone on here is pretending like this was something shocking, that someone under the influence did something that got them killed. It's not shocking, it's a calculated risk. I'm just suggesting people stop acting like this man was the victim of something other than his own choices. And yes I do assume he was under the influence. Unlike the ridiculous assumptions made by this article that he might not have been, mine is in line with reality. And his family would probably rather see someone share something real and remind others to be careful with the choices they make, rather than a bunch of enablers disregarding the real reason their son is no longer here. At least let his loss of life serve as a warning to make wiser life choices for others, instead of it turning into a rallying point for a bunch of people who refuse to accept that their choices can sometimes have consequences.
9/6/2017 07:54:16 pm
And Chaseton, if thats the most intellectual thing you have to contribute, please message me again when you finish high school.
9/6/2017 11:30:09 pm
I myself agree with Kevin's comments about this article. Although he is being blunt and outright harsh the fact of the matter is he is telling it like it is not to pussy foot around peoples feelings that want to think of this a spiritual experience or put the blame off on someone else other then Aaron Mitchel. This is my 3rd burn and I too myself have had my fare share of drug/mind altering use in the past and have been irresponsible at times. I have seen MANY burners over the last three years go too far and loose there minds over taking more drugs then they could handle and doing things that a normal sane person would never dream of doing. I have been going to festivals for over 10 years and been helping throw festivals for 4 and have come to this conclusion...
9/6/2017 11:54:34 pm
my comment got cut off so here is the rest of it...
9/7/2017 12:04:40 am
Thank you Scott, you understand what I meant. Please see above under Susan oh, I replied under the wrong thread
9/7/2017 02:23:41 am
Kevin, I think you could benefit from done trait yourself.
9/7/2017 04:30:26 am
Kevin, you're right that probability says this man was on drugs. However, innocent until proven guilty. The point of the article is: even if drugs are the most probable cause, no one should be making that declaration until it is proven. Because, as the author has stated, there are other possibilities for why this happened. And just because they are unlikely doesn't mean they are impossible. A psychotic episode, someone else dosing him, even a spiritual experience or revelation could have been the cause. Again, you're right, these possibilities are less likely. But it's unfair for you or anyone else to place blame when you have no proof. Unlikely things happen every single day. And even if it turns out it WAS drugs, it's with complete lack of sympathy that you find the most important thing to do is reprimand a dead person to take responsibility for the uncontrollable reaction he had to said drugs. The whole point here is that the important thing right now is to have empathy for his family. If it turns out he was on drugs, then feel free to get on your high horse and make it a lesson on drug use and responsibility. Until then, you're making assumptions and accusations at a time when people need empathy and kindness.
9/7/2017 08:26:07 am
I was there and i didnt do any drugs, didnt see anyone doing drugs. The burn is great sober.
9/7/2017 02:50:37 pm
I have been six times including this year and I have never taken any drugs, neither on nor off playa. Also I have never been offered drugs at Burning Man, while I have been offered weed and even meth in San Francisco. The amount of sex and drugs at BM may be slightly above the levels in San Francisco (and that's a big maybe), but to assume that everyone at Burning Man is on drugs unless they are boring (or children) is insulting. Also, a large number of suicide completers have no prior diagnosis, show no prior signs of it. So him succumbing to an undiagnosed depression is just as probable as him being on drugs.
9/9/2017 07:40:18 am
Close family friend😓Rock on🤙🏼
9/15/2017 10:39:50 pm
Kevin. Your either a self rightious asshole or you have a significant blindness. I'm give mg the benefit of the doubt that it is the second. The family is reading these. Save your sermons that cause pain to others for private conversations between you and your friends. You don't need to win a public debate at the expense of those grieving. Look both ways before you cross.
9/21/2017 06:16:16 pm
To kevin, when I first saw the news of this and watched the videos, the first thing I thought was "psychedelics". Now for the benefit of my response to you, lets say he was, and lets say he took them willingly. That does not mean that what he did was selfish or self centered. It means he was absolutely NOT in his right-mind. I spent 15yrs on dead/festival tours. I have seen and have personally been a victim to a altered mind. I have i feeling, that maybe he just had such a overwhelming sensation to be apart of the flames, but at the time not realizing he could get hurt. This may be hard for people to understand, if you've been in a situation like this. You should not condemn him, no matter what he was thinking whether in his right mind or not. A loss of life deserves sympathy. Kevin you sound like a narcissist. I sure hope you aren't at these beautiful festivals spreading your hate.
9/6/2017 12:19:33 am
Does anyone know if he was the naked guy running around tge man last year 2016?
9/6/2017 04:31:55 am
The article calls him a birgin, which would meant this was his first burn. While I feel a deep compassion for him, I also can't help but feel that he WAS selfish.
9/6/2017 10:31:35 am
No from what I have read, it was his first burn!
9/6/2017 11:51:52 am
Everyone is selfish. The guy who jumped in the fire and the people who witnessed it. No one escapes selfishness and no one can be truly selfless. But it doesn't mean they don't deserve empathy. This was a tragic occurrence all around. There's no reason to take sides or blame anyone. It will not do any good. He will still be dead, and people will still be traumatized. Compassion should be the only focus here, whether it's to him, his memory, his family, or all the others affected.
9/7/2017 04:39:16 pm
FireT, I was one of the Rangers on perimeter duty at the Temple site Monday morning. I'm sorry none of us could get you ashes. Until the BLM accepted the Fire Marshall's assessment that the temple fire was fully out, no one could access the Temple fire site including the Temple team, Rangers etc. As soon as possible, that assessment was made and access given, we then worked with the Temple clean up team to start giving ashes to those who came by for some and as soon as possible after that opened the site to participants to access directly. I hope that all that you needed to release at the Temple has ascended in the best possible way. Hugs to you.
9/9/2017 04:04:09 pm
What's wrong with people having sex Scott? Could possibly have been a couple expressing themselves freely in the playa. If your religious fiancee didn't like that it's her own issue, we aren't all going to wait until marriage to have sex. I am not being funny but I really do not think the sex thing should be a problem out there as long as it is consensual and not outrageous. Drugs are a different issue and I agree they should not be done out in the open, and I also agree with the camp problem. I experienced my first burn and was lucky to be part of an amazing camp. The majority helped but there were a few who showed up Tuesday, showed up for all the meals and were nowhere to be seen Monday morning when we took everything down. That's no good.
9/6/2017 11:39:19 am
Honestly from what I get from this article is how much you want to gain attention and fame from someone else's suffering. While I can see that you tried to write a well-thought-out article you left so many holes in it and elaborated very little where you could have. You seem like you're trying to be a martyr. You're not though you're just trying to get attention by having the opposite Viewpoint that many others are having. For one you can't have the opposite viewpoint because you weren't there. Secondly, you shouldn't be trying to gain so much Fame from someone else's misfortune. Thirdly you weren't there and you didn't witness it you can't say how anyone else should feel about the event that did witness it. It would be appropriate to politely correct them by telling them it would be best if they didn't blast their negative viewpoints in public spaces and redirect them to get counseling. Also, you can't say that no one knows whether he had been on drugs because someone at Burning Man does know the people that hung out with him or the people that he did drugs with. I personally go to Burning Man and don't do drugs, but I haven't met anybody else that goes to Burning Man and doesn't do drugs. I'm sure it exists but it's probably very rare. Your statements and your article seems to me about as ignorant as the people you're complaining about. Your edit was especially annoying who cares how many people have read this article because of their interest in the man that ran into the fire at Burning Man. The only reason people are reading there is because they're Googling that. And of course a man running into the fire at Burning Man it's going to attract more attention than somebody dying from being run over by an art car in case you wrote an article about that too. Get off your pompous ass and start writing more detailed and thorough arguments.
9/6/2017 11:56:04 am
The only thing that is ignorant is this reply. The author didn't write this for fame, they wrote it to spread compassion which for some reason you and others like you feel the need to quash at every turn.
9/6/2017 12:41:44 pm
"I personally go to Burning Man and don't do drugs, but I haven't met anybody else who goes to Burning Man and doesn't do drugs."
9/6/2017 03:07:33 pm
Thank you so much for this response! There are a lot of people on here who just want to avoid responsibility at all cost by speculating on the 1% chance this guy was a part of the sober burners there. $1000.00 cash I'll bet anyone that if a public toxicology report is released, this man was under the influence of something. I think that the reason everyone here is advocating to feel sorry for this man is because of an internal struggle with responsibility in their own lives. We all want to live a certain lifestyle that can potentially cause serious pain and suffering to our loved ones, but we don't want to be perceived as selfish assholes if we end up being the guy who trips too hard and runs into an inferno, scarring witnesses and his family for life.
9/10/2017 02:54:52 am
Jesus Christ. The guy spoke to the deceased man's brother and put out a family endorsed public plea for compassion and EMPATHY. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another human being. It is clear many posting either do not know this, or are sadly incapable of experiencing it. How or why one would find the key take away from this piece of writing, that the author is a shameless fame monger, is really quite staggering. EMPATHY Kelly. That was the message. Empathy. My heart hurts for this departed soul's loved ones, who must be in such deep pain and sorrow. If maybe the only way I can help is to refrain from public negativity and blame on social media, whatever my assessment of the event, then that seems like a good thing to do, and a step toward real empathy.
9/6/2017 04:46:42 pm
Thank you for writing this. It breaks my heart that some burners can not think about anyone or anything outside of their selfish desire to party. Instead they should view it as our burner community's failure to watch over and protect one of our own. I did not know Aaron but I wish I had been there so that I could of tried to stop him, to hold him down, to distract him and turn his attention elsewhere. My thoughts and prayers will be with him, and especially for his family.
9/6/2017 08:00:56 pm
Kevin: you are special kind of narssacist aren't you? The man died and you know nothing of the facts and yet you have the audacity to judge him. Where is your compassion? I've known numerous people over the years that were over dosed, mixed dosed, or dosed without their consent. And if you have spent enough time partying then you've seen it happen too. You've blathered on longer than the original article showing 100% apathy. You obviously didn't read it, or worse, you read it and didnt care. Yes it's almost absolute he was on drugs. But knitpicking the details when you have no facts is pointless. Someone dies and all you can think about is woah is me?? Wake up man! See something bigger than yourself! Feel something for someone else. What if that had been your brother? Your son? Your best friend? Would you still be filling page after page about how you couldn't scoop some stupid ash?? Are you so self centered cause you've never lost anyone close? And if you have and you're still this selfish then shame on you sir. Wake up! There's always another party. Always another burn! But Aaron passed because everyone around him failed him: those who tripped with him; those that gave him the drugs; those that couldn't hold him down or keep him from the fire. If you are a burner then I'm ashamed to call myself one. You dishonor yourself.
9/6/2017 11:51:27 pm
Chris, I am not judging Aaron Mitchell. I am judging this article however, as it blatantly ignores and takes away from what we all know most likely happened. A guy got way to high and made a decision that can't be unmade. It is sad, and it's not from a lack of empathy that I speak, it's from a lack of patience for a culture that no longer has the capacity to accept responsibility for their own actions and choices. I have had more friends die from overdose and other drug related accidents than I can keep count of, and it does break my heart, but I'm just not blind enough to call them accidents anymore. I'm just someone trying to express a voice of reason on here. I apologize if I don't deliver that message gently, I lack the finesse for that, but my message is the same, just take responsibility for your choices, that's all.
9/7/2017 12:39:20 am
A beautiful epitaph to what sounds like a well-lived life. I have had a boyfriend commit suicide and the questions still linger. Bosh to the questions! I hope you can remember his life and not his death. Blessings upon you and all he loved. Peace
9/11/2017 09:19:27 am
It adds to my sorrow for Aaron, his family and Friends and my family and friends that witnessed the event up close to be accused of not being empathic to all. We are wounded and traumatized. Accusations of lack of appropriate emotion just hurts more. I am particularly offended by the idea that the Fire Personel 'Failed' to stop him. I witnessed his exuberance at evading their desperate attempts to stop him. I can believe he wasn't intending to commit suicide, but if not, his wrecklessness led to his death and traumatized thousands. The anger that people may feel towards him is just as ligimate an emotional response as any and all other emotional responses. It is not ligitament to judge the emotional responses of those directly affected by his actions. I feel a wide range of emotions but 'gutted' would be the overwhelming response. May Aaron and his family and friends find peace. May my family and friends find peace. For now, that seems a difficult place to reach...
9/17/2017 06:28:09 pm
You don't know me or what why and how I was affected by this sad event. You made good points, most of which I was already In agreement.
9/5/2017 11:47:35 am
Spot On! I was there and it breaks my heart....but it also reminds me how precious and valuable each life is. Love and light to this Burner and his family and friends ....
9/5/2017 09:25:16 pm
Heart. As a concept of caring. Is required, to be a Human .
9/6/2017 09:03:41 pm
How much fire does it take for a true heart to be kind and loving of others...
9/5/2017 11:50:45 am
Very well said and thank you for doing so. The reactions from many with little or no empathy for Aaron and his family and friends are hard to read. Even if he did make the choice willingly with no drugs involved(which I don't believe)- having empathy for him and his family seems natural to me even if you don't understand what or why it happened. No one knows for sure what he was experiencing. My heart and soul go out to Aaron and his entire family- especially his sibling. I lost my brother to cancer and it is the hardest thing I have ever gone through. I can't imagine what you are going through. I am sending my love to you all.
9/5/2017 11:52:45 am
I completely agree. If he did it of sound mind, he must have been suffering absolutely horribly to willingly burn himself to death. It's a sad situation all around, and I see him as the primary victim no matter why he did it.
9/5/2017 11:57:26 am
Exactly Dr. Yes. Thank you for this blog. It actually made me feel a lot better to read this and see some understanding in a sea of anger and blame. My heart is aching for Aaron and his family and friends. He sounded like an amazing person.
9/5/2017 11:53:43 am
My heart goes out to the family, friends and loved ones of Mr. Aaron Mitchell...
9/5/2017 01:09:26 pm
I am so sorry.
9/5/2017 03:21:49 pm
How awful, I'm so sorry this has happened to you and your son. 😔
9/5/2017 05:03:30 pm
My heartfelt condolences
9/5/2017 06:41:01 pm
I am so, so sorry to hear this. My heart opens and holds you and your son and my prayers are sent to you and your family. Sending love now and always and love to Aaron and his family.
9/5/2017 08:50:00 pm
It takes as much time as it takes. You know the first year is going to be hard, after that the grief comes in waves. Some you know are coming and you can prepare, others come out of no where and knock you off your feet. Be kind to yourself. Your process is your process. There is no thought or wrong way to grieve, but if it gets too overwhelming, don't be afraid to ask for help, no one is equipped to deal with the loss off a child, especially by suicide.
9/5/2017 11:59:40 pm
Thank you for sharing your experience and for the reminder to savor every moment with children.
9/6/2017 09:23:56 am
CJ Krewe Unfortunately my son also killed himself on March 2, 2015.I know all these emotions you speak are truth. I am so sorry for your loss. The pain does start to ease after 2 years but there will always be "moments". I pray Aaron did not kill himself. I feel like he must have had a bad drug trip. Even so that will not change the out come. They thought my son was on drugs but toxicology came back clean. So there is also that emotion. Part of me wished he was on drugs so I could have my answer as to why. My heart goes out to everyone effected by witnessing it. That is one of my hardest emotions to process was the witnesses to my son's death.The guilt is there for sure.
9/6/2017 08:11:24 pm
So so sorry for your loss and your beautiful boy!
9/6/2017 09:27:26 am
My heart breaks for you, I'm so sorry for your loss.
9/6/2017 05:33:04 pm
Omg I am so sorry to hear about your son!
9/6/2017 05:41:01 pm
I lost my son 5yrs ago. It never goes away we just learn to live a different way.Not easy grieving does not end. I guess we just learn to deal with it!! So sorry to all mom's and families that lose a so ndaughter brother or sister. The blame game doesn't help the situation at all.
9/6/2017 06:12:25 pm
I'm so very sorry for your loss. Please be kind to yourself and surround yourself with family and friends who love and support you. There are community resources available as well. I'm sending my condolences and prayers for your healing, with love.
9/6/2017 08:08:59 pm
Sending love, light and heartfelt condolences to you and yours! Our son has struggled these last few years- In the un-exact words of one of my favorite authors, Jane Smiley, she says in the face of recent and unexpected death...There is nothing else like early grief, people ask you how you are doing and you say you are doing fine, but what you really mean is that you are unrecognizable to yourself! Life will be wonderful again, but it will never be the same.
9/6/2017 08:46:43 pm
CJ Krewe my heart is breaking for you and my heart is sending you love. You are living through the worst that can happen to someone. I am glad you shared your emotions on this as you can speak from a perspective that hopefully will help others. I hope you find comfort. I hope you can feel all the love and positive energy I am sure being sent your way.
9/8/2017 12:50:01 pm
I'm so sorry for your loss. My father and uncle killed themselves ten days apart from each other in August of 2014. I felt like I was living in a Salvador Dali painting for a very long time. The questions we're plagued with, and the pain of knowing their death was intentional, make for a torturous situation. It does get easier. If there's one thing I would like to convey to you, it is that. Remember the love you were given, and the love you gave. Hear their words in your head, think of the beauty of the life they led, and those memories will save you in the long run. Grieving is the most personal, heart wrenching journey I've ever taken. Please know that you're not alone in this. There are so many resources and support groups out there. Something that helped me immensely was to be around others who had also lost someone to suicide. Sadly, this pain is a unique one that many don't truly understand unless they've been there. And I wouldn't want them to understand it. You will get through this. You will be okay. Let yourself feel everything you need to. Don't be afraid to sink down to the floor in the kitchen when you're hit with a barrage of memories that tear your heart apart. Don't be ashamed of what you feel. Another important message I'd like to tell you is don't push back the grief. Don't hide it away and pretend it isn't there. It will demand to be felt eventually. My heart goes out to you. "Grief is the tax we pay on love." Thomas Lynch
9/5/2017 12:03:06 pm
Thank you for this!!!
9/5/2017 12:06:48 pm
Your article is well written and sensitive but there is no need to label anyone as pricks. You are asking us to be better so with all your respect please set an example and don't use labels like that!
9/5/2017 08:57:57 pm
Then don't be a prick.
9/6/2017 12:14:10 am
Yeah, it was a heartfelt plea for empathy to a group of people that were traumatized and reacting to that trauma, including the firefighters who seriously risked lives and injury trying to save him,..and quite moving, until the prick name calling started,.. that was weird and hypocritical. Those affected can't call him a prick but he can call them a prick. Good until the end when credibility was lost.
9/5/2017 12:18:24 pm
Well said and very spot on. RIP Aaron
9/5/2017 12:23:44 pm
I was with you all the way to the last paragraph or two. The fences at the Temple burn, and likely future burns, were in place because of his actions. That is the only difinitive thing that can be stated about this tragic incident. It has impacted the Burn. However, you're right about people using the word "ruined" and taking it personal with ignorant statements about this situation. This incident is unfortunate and we may never truly understand why, but it did change the Burn forever. Perhaps there should have been fences up for the very reasons you point out...
9/5/2017 01:28:41 pm
I don't see why having fences up would ruin the Burn for anyone. After the same thing happened at the Utah Burn it should have already been considered. As Burners we should be open to evolving. We already stand a safe distance from the Burns and have security so if a fence further helps so be it. I also get why people who witnessed this first hand are traumatized and for the family this is horrible but that doesn't ruin the Burn or the culture for me. The whole point of burning the man is to make peace with impermanence. Burn on, much love everyone, and if you are suffering seek help
9/5/2017 11:23:59 pm
Do you really think there is help available for people suffering depression or other illnesses or issues? As someone who has suffered major depression since a child and tried to kill myself ending up in a coma and with major damages I can get tell you it is very difficult to get help. Even now I struggle and have no support. As a society we all talk the tAlk of helping those suicidal but in practice very few actually do so. We find it far readier to like and share posts. My oldest friend of 30 years didn't even bother replying to the email about my suicid and hospitalisation but shortly after shared a "Are You Ok?" (Australian suicide prevention campaign) post on Facebook. So hypocritical but that in my experience is the norm.
9/6/2017 08:55:05 am
I agree with several comments, but would like to respond to yours. You are spot on and clearly a level headed and compassionate person able to think outside of an emotional situation to speak the truth.
9/5/2017 12:47:46 pm
Thank you. While I love the Burner community so much, I'm at times surprised by the snark and seeming lack of love, empathy, sympathy, and an attempt at understanding in the face of difficult or controversial situations. We don't know what Aaron was going through. I can only imagine the magnitude of his suffering. God speed to Aaron and his family.
9/5/2017 01:00:18 pm
Look, he was obviously not of sound mind when he ran into the fire. Maybe he did not understand that just because he couldn't see flames didn't mean that the heat wouldn't cook him from yards away. It is sad but I don't offer any pity to him. I do offer condolences to his family.
9/5/2017 01:05:45 pm
Such a terrible sad tragedy for all. Why we may never know. Peace and love to his family.
9/5/2017 01:05:51 pm
You Know what was disturbing ... watching the twin towers collapse in real life........ I can list so many disturbing things I have witnessed in life but that is life. DISTURBING! Empathy and compassion goes a long way humans.. get some!
9/14/2017 02:25:26 pm
Thank you for your comment. I was both places.
9/5/2017 01:08:55 pm
It broke my heart to hear of tbis. My only thought at the time was 'what a horrible way to go no matter what the circumstances. My heart goesvour to his family and friends and all whoseover he touched. This world is going insane and it's sad. We do need more r.patjy for our fellow humans and less judgement. None of us , NOT EVEN ONE, is perfect. Only human. God bless us all..
9/5/2017 01:59:35 pm
Thank you 👏🏽
9/5/2017 02:25:00 pm
As a long time member of seek and rescue, my first thought was that Aaron was not in "suicide mode". He carried a hydration canister which is clearly visible on some of those chocking pictures. This tragic episode doesn't seem different from what I've witnessed before. Participant having negative reaction to mind altering substance, undressed and having incoherent and sometimes violent behavior towards others and/or in self-harm mode. In other words: totally unhinged from reality.
9/5/2017 03:26:56 pm
Thank you, for your service and your words.
9/7/2017 10:35:34 pm
Beautifully said. Thank you.
9/14/2017 02:29:15 pm
9/5/2017 02:34:18 pm
Much love to the family of Aaron Joel Mitchell, to those who were there, and to those who will be processing this tragedy for years to come. There is no limit to the hugs and compassion I send you all. Rest in peace, Joel. xo
9/5/2017 02:44:24 pm
all things aside i watched innocent people put their lives in danger trying to stop him, those poor people will have to live with this for the rest of their lives and his poor family , no one seems to care about those that risked their lives while he tried to take his ..id love to see the tox reports, Ill wait till i see them...
9/5/2017 07:11:10 pm
How on earth do you come to the conclusion that no one cares about his family or the rescuers? Almost every detailed post voices their empathy for such...
9/5/2017 08:37:32 pm
Agree 100 percent. Traumatizing to those who were there. That is where my empathy goes. They will suffer Post Traumatic Stress for
9/5/2017 02:58:26 pm
Seriously? There are a-holes complaining that his death "ruined their temple burn"?
9/6/2017 10:47:56 am
That's exactly what I keep thinking. Not enough eye-rolls in the world. Especially the person up thread who is upset because she wasn't able to get her vial of ash because of him. JFC people...you need a dose of reality.
9/7/2017 10:53:35 pm
Eye roll away. I was there. I saw. I am traumatized. I have a right to my anger. I have a right to grabble with an inability to forgive today. I have a right to talk about what i feel and think even if later i realize i judged too fast or made a mistake. However that won't excuse me from doing more harm and i will need to take responsibility for it. When i see the pictures of aaron or hear from his family about him my heart bursts with grief. But my heart also is grief stricken for the rangers and fire fighters who tried to save him and couldn't. For his wife, friends, parents, brother and for those who witnessed his suicide. I don't know why but i want to know. Not to place blame but to use my anger to make change if possible. I could have tried to stop him. I suspected he might run into the flame. I don't know why i felt that. I am no expert. I didn't talk to him but i watched him and i felt troubled by his actions. I did nothing. I'm mad because i blame my inaction too. Having compassion is harder than it would seem. Have compassion for the angry and those you find to be petty and judgemental. That's tricky. That's a challenge at burning man and a challenge here. Love to you all who are suffering.
9/5/2017 03:29:31 pm
Thank you for writing this. The lack of empathy has been the second most disturbing thing about this - after those widely circulated and horrific photos. My heart to his poor family and wife. I am so sorry for your loss and the public way this very private pain is playing out.
9/5/2017 03:34:10 pm
Everyone processes trauma differently. It is not productive or kind to shame people for their anger or grief, or to tell them how they *should* feel or what emotional responses are acceptable.
9/5/2017 05:32:51 pm
I agree. We should not be telling people how they should feel about this. I really appreciate your post.
9/7/2017 01:53:10 am
Thank you Dr Yes for your article. But the Oskar of this thread goes to Jen. Thank you Jen for your mindfulness and your oversight. Love and compassion to Joel, his family and friends, the rescuers, the witnesses, as well as all the lost souls and all the Trumps out there (or posting here). Try to understand where they are coming from. Feel fully, feel deeply, and love one another.
9/14/2017 02:35:46 pm
Thank you! So true.
9/5/2017 03:36:25 pm
Thank you for this article. I completely agree that empathy and compassion are the only appropriate reaction here. I just have one comment to make in regard to you statement, "You have no idea if he was of sound mind at the time." I disagree. It is clear he was NOT of sound mind. To throw one's self into a fire is not something someone in their right mind does. Whether he was suicidal, which is almost always a sign of mental illness, or under the influence of a different mental illness, or a substance that scrambled his judgement, the choice he made did not come from a sound mind. My heart goes out to him and his loved ones - and all of us who witnessed his insane act. I just want to name it what it was. We need to treat mental illness as what it is: illness, not a misguided choice. thank you.
9/5/2017 03:43:15 pm
I can appreciate that, but I think humans are capable of remarkably out-of-character things and didn't want to rule out any possibility. I also think suicide can be a rational act, though I'd agree it strains the boundaries of my imagination to imagine someone calmly and rationally deciding to do it that way. I'm sure someone will eventually mention Thích Quảng Đức (the Vietnamese monk who set himself on fire and calmly burned to death in '63) but, that's a stretch of a comparison to make.
9/14/2017 02:38:02 pm
I agree with you. Thank you for expressing these thoughts.
Frustrated with Suicide
9/5/2017 03:41:17 pm
True, but also people who are angry with him have a right to their feelings. The reality is that suicide is an extremely sensitive topic that triggers extreme emotions and reactions on both ends of the spectrum. To the sound healthy mind its natural to see it as selfish, don't discount people for their opinions or punish them. Yes they have compassion and utmost empathy, but its also ok to be hurt and angry. It also creates a horrible copy cat effect and we not unfortunately have a situation that someone might feel motivated to outdo next time. We have also seen so much suicide in our community and lately with rock stars we have lived more than 20 years of our lives with their music and so there is a collective trauma of an already horrible epidemic of suicide. This is not a time to point fingers but to have more dialog around suicide and a lot more is needed to reach out to help people quick who are struggling with reality and how to support mental health in crushing times. I am on of those people who called him selfish for doing that to other burners, one of the most magic and transformative experience just got ruined by the notion of the suicide. The goal should not to punish people who speak out, we need more discussion, but its also a valid feeling to be upset that he did that in that way, suicide does nothing but spread angst and horror to everyone that loves the person, their family and friends and larger community who didn't want that to happen. Maybe he wanted to go out in a blaze of glory and become one with the man, but instead he died 10 hours later an agonizing death in a burn ward in California. People get this and are horrified by this and will take weeks to let that horror go. Suicide is not cool at all and we don't know why he did it but also that hurt a lot of people and the collective, so people need time to process, it was completely traumatizing and also triggers past pain from other suicides in our larger culture and people we know and love.
9/5/2017 04:06:16 pm
This isnt the first suicide at BM i walked into a gym along with a lot others in 07 and a body was hanging from the ceiling..we all thought it was art at least he didnt try to take out others with his suicide like this guy did, sad...
9/5/2017 11:32:04 pm
What do you mean he tried to take others out with him?
9/6/2017 04:52:12 am
But if it was an accident, from over dosing or from being spiked, this anger at him is so preemptive. Surely we wait.
9/5/2017 04:02:14 pm
I am so sorry to hear about the incident during the Man's burn. Burning Man has helped countless thousands find themselves, find friends and changed lives in positive ways (I'm an example). Our BM family, like any other, continues to love and support each other, especially during this time of grief. Aaron's family, the founders & volunteers, and attendees of this year's event are in my thoughts and prayers today more than ever. We may never know what motivated Aaron Mitchell to do what he did, but he will remain a part of us.
9/5/2017 04:23:36 pm
I for one, take a bit of solace in thinking that maybe he was under the impression that he needed to sacrifice himself for the greater good of humanity. Maybe we should be thanking him.
9/5/2017 06:18:11 pm
9/5/2017 04:25:48 pm
Everything in all good time.
9/5/2017 04:27:58 pm
Thanks for this. The exact thing happened in Utah in 2014. People got through it. We can never know the state of peoples' minds we can only try to be empathetic. People try to apply meaning or causation where there might be none.
9/14/2017 02:42:31 pm
Thank you. So true.
9/5/2017 04:28:42 pm
Life is so very precious. 😢 I feel sad for him & for the people chasing him & then pulling him out and then for his family & friends. Forever horrible memory for them...for all. I know!! My 1st huband caught on fire burning weeds with gasoline 33 yrs ago. The fumes ignited him. Over 75% of his body burned in seconds. He looked like a match. Seeing his skin hanging off of his body was horrific. He survived, though became mad at the world. I am an 8 year burner. RIP to this young man!
9/5/2017 04:47:49 pm
Joel was my friend. He has touched many of us from or who were from the Bellingham community. He was one of kind and the way his brother described him was spot on. I really appreciate the article. Thank you!
9/6/2017 12:45:44 pm
I'm so sorry. :(
9/5/2017 05:26:13 pm
Beautifully written, perfectly expressed. Thank you for finding the right words and being a decent enough human to express them.
9/5/2017 05:32:35 pm
Just wanted to say thank you for writing that, and also make a comment regarding "committed suicide", in order to reduce the stigma, the term that should be used is "died of suicide"
9/5/2017 05:33:37 pm
Well said, I dont believe in an after life so I have no words to help with the Families pain. Nor the pain of those who saw it and are traumatized. I can only say that I was on fire perimiter at a Region Burn in New York this year. i plan to volenteer now at every burn to hopefully prevent anyone else to have to suffer like his family and him and the folks who tried to stop him. As to those angry at him, make art and Shut the fuck up, nobody cares about your anger.
9/5/2017 05:43:08 pm
Thank you so much for writing this and the kind words Jolie was a good friend of mine. He was an amazing person with a giant Hart loving kind and one of the funniest people I have ever met. He was loved by many people and we all appreciate the kind words. Thank you
9/5/2017 06:11:55 pm
There is no disecting why someone did what they did, the motive or intentions behind it are incomprehensible to those of us who are still here. Wether drug induced or not, this man felt compelled to do what he did, and left behind a tragedy that the people who are closet to him have to deal with. For peace sakes, we should all keep our thoughts to ourselves, and allow those who lost a son, a father, a partner grieve. I think it's selfish to be disecting such a tragedy so early, let the people who love him mourn in peace, and for the sanctity of his family, do not have so little empathy to write such a detailed article even believing you can comprehend the loss they are suffering. Everyone should stand in quiet solidarity and do no write articles touching on a loss you cannot understand.
9/7/2017 11:04:31 pm
I must disagree. Suicide has too long been taboo. It is one thing to honor grief we don't understand by withholding unnecessary judgement it is another to tell people who are deeply impacted by something to be quiet. We can't keep sweeping the far reaching issues of suicide under the rug, can we?
9/5/2017 06:14:20 pm
Although I haven't attended Burningman for several years, hearing the news of Mr. Mitchell's suicide still had an emotional impact on me. The act itself, and his mental pain that led to it, are tragic. I feel sad for the loss and pain his family must be going through
9/6/2017 12:23:56 am
Choose your own death with a caveat,...unless you are injuring others or putting them at risk
9/6/2017 05:06:12 am
9/6/2017 05:52:04 pm
It is his life, he did what he wanted to with it, evry step of the way
9/14/2017 02:53:54 pm
Thank you so much for everything you said. I'm surprised how limited and closed minded even burners can be.
9/5/2017 06:59:29 pm
We do not know the whole picture, but we do know this is tragic. The incredibly self-serving insensitive comments simply reflect the emotional maturity of the commentators...people who will one day confront their own experience with tragedy (and turn struggle with how to make sense of their own, or others' attempt to make sense of events). RIP Aaron, so sorry for the family and friends' loss....
9/5/2017 07:09:32 pm
So i always thought these things were attended by really cool loving people. The reactions to this poor mans death prove otherwise. Self indulgent fashion victims springs to mind.
9/5/2017 07:12:28 pm
Very sad. I have to wonder, where were his people? He traveled there with a group. What happened to the Buddy System, the No Man Left Behind? They knew him well . You can't always know what is in someone mind, but this group traveled together often, so it makes me wonder.
9/5/2017 07:26:54 pm
It seems that a lot has been said here so I just want to thank you. As a father of a son who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, I understand all the dark sides of losing someone so publicly. I cannot imagine what Aaron's parents are feeling right now. I know I still think about my son's four second drop to his death and it is still so painful after almost ten years. Also, as a former member of the Fire Art Safety Team that oversees all the fires from conception to the burn, I can only imagine what they are going through today. This will be felt by the whole Burning Man community but especially by those who work so hard every year to prevent this kind of thing. Much love to all my brothers and sisters on the FAST Team. So, thank for such thoughtful words and a special thanks for that last bit. Peace and Love, Moonfire
9/6/2017 08:29:43 pm
Sending you love and light Moonfire! We have gone through many mental health issues w/ our son and remain grateful he is still with us!
9/5/2017 07:34:40 pm
** I will have much to say about this once I get off Playa. But let me share with you one thing: I answer the "Calls to God" phone on Playa... ever since I was pulled from Esplanade and saw that it is ANY ONE OF US at any given time able to just step right in and be THAT PERSON to listen to another Burner words to God. And every single time I step into that space, there are always one or two suicidal calls--- YES, right on Playa!!! People come to this amazing gathering of creativity, open LOVE and spirirt and can still feel desperatelly alone...... let us be there to listen to one another NOW, right now, wherever we might be NOW in teh default world- let us take this time and remember our Burner family!!!
9/6/2017 01:09:09 am
Whoa. Didn't know anyone answered the phone on that. Mine was silent so I thought that was the joke.
9/5/2017 07:41:37 pm
Thank you for sparking some discussion. The way we react to tragedy is very personal and complex. Judging another's reaction doesn't seem as helpful to me as trying to hear and understand their perspective and then inviting them to do the same. Open discussion can lead to a deeper understanding and genuine empathy, realizing that complete agreement isn't even necessary to help move towards healing. My condolences and love to Aaron's family, friends and all affected by this tragedy.
9/5/2017 07:53:22 pm
I have friends who brought home ashes and charred bit of the man. Has anyone considered this was an accident while trying to grab a memento?
9/5/2017 08:21:18 pm
I find your tone condescending at best and moralizing from a standpoint I don't know you have the 'authority' to be moralizing from. While I appreciate the attempt to mediate a shocking and traumatizing (for all) situation and to bring to light aaron's character which I value, you add fuel to a fire if now putting down those who are expressing their valid concerns about this act. And while this act may or may not reflect his character, it's not for you to diminish the very real impact that this has had done people and the event in general. I have empathy for aaron but the act, whether he was conscious of it or not, has had real and lasting impact. Your attempts to demoralize a real reaction is akin to shaming those who rightly have an angry or concerned response to a horrific situation. He may not have been aware of the consequences of his actions and I can have full empathy for him as a person and still feel angry upset and traumatized at the effects. Thanks but the puritan needs to be laid to rest.
Adoring you for having stood up to stop the speculations and hate, and reminding people that we don't know what is going through another's mind and to be empathetic towards them. This would have been a tough post to write, and you did it eloquently and with strength and empathy. Thank you.
9/5/2017 10:23:46 pm
What an incredibly sad and horrific tragedy. I'm sad for him and his family and also for the fact that I will never know the man that Micah so eloquently loved and paid tribute to. My sincere empathy and sympathy to his family and beloved friends. The world obviously lost a great champion of humanity. I hope that he has found the piece that may have been eluding him for longer than we will ever know!
9/5/2017 10:24:23 pm
It is with a heart felt sadness that we must say goodbye, to a unique individual who wished nothing more than to attend the event. It's never simple to understand such a tragedy. We send our thoughts across the Oceans to his Wife family and siblings.
9/5/2017 10:35:19 pm
A lovely man died from an accident. A tragic, horrible, preventable accident. Would he be critizied is he fell off a chairlift while snowboarding? Would that fall ruin the sport for you? How about if he jumped carelessly from rock jump in bali and drowned? Would you blame the rocks ?what if he had been secretly battling a terminal disease and was given choices he could not accept, and in a moment of desperately wanting freedom from the treatment, he gave in to the fire? We don't know. He does. His soul, it soars and has all the answers. Perhaps in our side of heaven with dincete meditations some clarity will come. I don't think it will in critical messages and harsh accusations.
9/5/2017 10:55:38 pm
Thank you for this article...Praying for him, his family and friends. RIP 😔💕
9/5/2017 11:41:07 pm
may peace come to everyone touched by this event, and may we all come together and be open with each other about our feelings in an effort to understand. i'm grateful we are able to share our thoughts together. bless you all.
9/5/2017 11:54:09 pm
I havent seen the video yet but not one person could stop him?! Wow! I say some one slipt him a Mickey
9/6/2017 01:46:45 am
I have read that the guy that "fell"off of a tower (there may have been two such incidents not sure) was "dosed" without consent. If this is what happened to Aaron then I am wondering if there shouldn't be a campaign like the B.E.D. people do and the piss clear thing. I mean there were stickers and signs on portos and everywhere for B.E.D. (which I fully support and think it's sad that it is even needed). Can't there be a "hey, you think it's funny but it's not it can be deadly" campaign for "dosing" someone without consent?
9/29/2017 01:55:28 am
Love that... 'Hey you think it's funny but its not it can be deadly.'
9/6/2017 02:07:58 am
Very sad to loose someone you love no matter what. To loose them in such a public and dramatic way is hard to imagine.
9/6/2017 08:37:17 am
I have mad a breakthrough and an offering from sentient beings while on a plane known not by man and have received an invitation to fast forward the inevitable and to leave right now after revelations were bestowed upon me too leave right at that time meant I would have to die but I did not yet trust myself at the time and did not trust what was reveiled to me enough to take the plunge. The only thing I can think of is this invitation was real and he was on a higher level with himself and believed what I couldn't im sorry for his friends and family I do believe he awnsered a great call that we do not understand
Michael you wrote the most empathic, beautiful & poetic reply of all. I feel bad now that he was pulled from the fire (& cruelly forced to endure Hell pain of a sober, hospital stay). Nothing was written about the fire-crew & the certain burns they sustained; or how they could have died by the improper, high-risk, pointless act of chasing after him. I hope his experience of the flames felt like a delicate, sparkle dust invitation into a parallel universe.
9/6/2017 08:40:42 am
Why not embracing his wish to do that?
9/6/2017 08:52:21 am
Thank you. Your wisdom and compassion is what we need.
Alexander Paul Nagel
9/6/2017 09:29:52 am
this man lost his life , why no one knows . i feel for him , and his family and friends . it is not on us to judge aaron so leave him and his family be. R.I.P and all the blessings to family and friends !
Melissa Big Bunny
9/6/2017 10:15:39 am
I was there for the other deaths where someone ran into the fire and did not make it out. I have no words for the emotions it has left upon me, as I am sure so many others are experiencing now with this recent tragedy. All emotions are valid, for the community, ones self, family of the deceased, for all really, it would be best to learn, move forward beyond blame towards what I do not know that is for you to decide.
9/6/2017 10:36:44 am
9/6/2017 11:01:56 am
Joel was an amazing character that I only had the privilege of meeting once but he was certainly a warm and funny and entertaining character. Friends that knew him better are even more shocked. Rest in peace Joel - you will be forever in our dreams.
Sarah L Fellows
9/6/2017 11:02:03 am
Thank you so much for posting this, its important to remember people for the good they are, not the dark they deal with or how they died. Again, thank you.
9/6/2017 01:34:11 pm
Good post. I'm pretty shocked by the attitudes of so many Redditors on r/burningman. Someone even compared him to the Boston Bombers!
9/6/2017 01:55:52 pm
Had some pretty awful comments here too, but I just remove the contentless ones that do nothing but insult him. Some people....
9/6/2017 01:46:40 pm
stop trashing Mister Rogers..... you talk all moral highground and then do a picture of mister rogers ,who has more morals in his pinky then you do in your whole body.. he'd never ,ever, give anyone the finger.. and theres nothing funny aboot it
9/6/2017 01:55:02 pm
Oh, he flipped 'em high and hard alright. High and hard. You don't fuck with Mister Rogers.
9/6/2017 02:44:22 pm
To the author of this post....THANK YOU! I have been one of the many people who knew & worked with Joel back in college that have been troubled by all of this.
9/6/2017 03:24:12 pm
I'm truly grateful this well thought out and written article has been done.
9/6/2017 03:30:40 pm
Your words touched a chord Jennifer. I apologize for my earlier comment as it might hurt those grieving for Joel. Request the moderator to please delete.
9/6/2017 03:32:01 pm
9/6/2017 06:40:04 pm
Thanks for expressing what I'm feeling and having empathy for a person who cannot defend himself
Donna B. Pacini-Christensen
9/6/2017 07:21:24 pm
Thank you very much for writing what you have written. I posted this (below) elsewhere recently. I have slightly revised it and wish to post it here. My thoughts, prayers, and compassion go out to everyone, especially the family and friends of Aaron Joel Mitchell. Again, thank you for writing what you have written. Donna
9/6/2017 07:42:39 pm
Thanks for writing this the way you did. I knew Joel in college and he was a good person. Everything I've heard about him since was even better. Sometimes things don't make sense entirely. I wish peace and comfort to Joel's family and those that stayed closer to him over the years. RIP Brother.
9/6/2017 09:47:55 pm
It is very sad this happened and my heart goes out to his family and loved ones. I do disagree with one thing the Author wrote.. there's no such thing as being sound of mind and taking your life. One's natural instinct is self preservation not self destruction when it comes to sanity aka soundness of mind.
9/6/2017 10:16:49 pm
Blessings to this young man as he travels the abyss. Blessings and healing to his parents, partner, children, siblings and friends who loved him dearly and will have to live a new normal without him. I am truly sorry for their loss.
9/6/2017 10:51:51 pm
Compassion for everyone at the event and all those affected by the immense suffering in the world. Very true, we don't really know and assuming anything and getting upset about it says a lot about the assumee.
9/6/2017 11:59:43 pm
I was there with my 10 year old child in one of the front rows as Joel zig zagged thru the crowd and out maneuvered the many people who tried to stop him from getting through to the burning fire. He was hooting and hollering and yahoo-ing as he zigzagged through the crowd . He pushed off a security guard who for a brief moment, had hold of his arm...we watched the firefighters bravely follow him into the fire up to their hips to try to pull him out.
9/7/2017 01:25:15 am
Thank you for writing this.
9/7/2017 04:29:08 am
I think you're right for what you said here, but I also think you're wrong. Mr. Mitchell, regardless of his state of mind took it upon himself to take his own life. Mr. Mitchell selfishly made a spectacle of it, harming everyone who witnessed it, his family, and himself. So to call anyone "self-centered, entitled pricks" is foolish without adding Mr. Mitchell into that very same category. How many other people will eventually end up ruined for the cancer that will surely grow in their psyche because of his act? How much pain was wrought upon those that loved him because of what he did? But also, opposite spectrum, what is the big deal? he simply destroyed his vehicle. Each and everyone of us knows in the core of our being that we're eternal-even if our waking minds don't believe that. Honoring Mr. Mitchell for whatever psychological challenges he had which caused him to run into the fire is akin to giving kids trophies for failing. Give him props for having the balls to do it, but do not praise him because he was fucked in the head. We're all fucked in the head. We all don't selfishly steal other people's happiness because of it. I cannot begin to imagine what was going thru his mind... and for all any of us know, he ran through that fire and came out on the other side of it unscathed in some alternate place... maybe we should all shut up... he stole the happiness of a lot of people, including his family. No amount of bitching and moaning will change that... so stop stealing any more happiness from each other. End of story.
9/7/2017 06:30:05 am
Firemen could have had the same fate trying to rescue him. It was selfish and lacking personal responsibility of him. We all make mistakes and must pay prices in some way for them. Prayers to the family and kiss the sky no firemen were hurt.
9/7/2017 06:35:02 am
I have not been to BM, know people who have, and I am inspired by all the creative and social acts. Recently I read about the Shiftpods constructed at BM now being used for disaster relief.
9/7/2017 10:06:49 am
I completely agree with your statements. I wasn't there nor am I a burner. I do not have an opinion or speculation to offer other than it doesn't matter how or why he did it.What matters is that a man lost his life. A man with a family and friends. What steps are going to be taken to prevent this from happening again? That is what we need to really look at here.
9/7/2017 07:34:35 am
Yes, there should be empathy for this man, but don't think that the people who witnessed this dont have the right to lash out. Those poor people now have a non stop video of his death running through their heads. A video that they can't stop. They now suffer from PTSD. I know because I watched someone drive themselves into a semi two weeks ago. I have empathy and compassion, there must have been a lot of pain involved to do something like that, but now I get to relive it... daily, mulitiple times. The witnesses have every right to work through their pain in whichever way they need to heal. I'm sorry if that includes being angry at the man who caused it.
9/7/2017 10:08:20 am
I am a suicide survivor. Unless you have been there, one can not fathom the thoughts I had before the suicide attempt. I made, this soil did not. My heart to his family and my love to those traumatized. Peter Levine wrote "Waking the Tiger" read to process this horrific event.
Donna Sue McGuire
9/7/2017 10:41:55 am
WE are not here to judge and losing a loved one is overwhelming. Speculation is not needed. My heart goes out to his family and friends.
9/7/2017 11:07:58 am
I was at the burn, but did not witness the tragedy.
9/7/2017 11:20:40 am
So many people making assumptions. I'm not even sure he wanted to kill himself -- it's possible that he was blissed out and wanted to be one with the art and flames in a fit of ecstasy. But a member of our city is gone, and that's just sad.
9/7/2017 05:23:08 pm
I was wondering about this possibility myself...the possibility of just being so blissed out he lost all sense of self-preservation. Has no one ever stood somewhere very high and had that odd feeling of wonder, that question of what it would feel like to fly? Fortunately, my fear of heights has always kept me from that edge, and my fear of fire and burning to death keep me well away from flames. But I see the appeal. Maybe he was on drugs, maybe not. I don't think that is even the point. It is just very sad that for whatever reason this worthy person ended this way.
9/23/2017 12:06:12 am
That was my first thought...blissed out !!
9/7/2017 01:31:18 pm
If Micah is reading this, please know that there are many prayers and gentle thoughts being offered for you and your brother at this time.
9/7/2017 02:49:11 pm
I don't condemn him for what he did.
9/8/2017 10:07:03 am
I have to say, I think that's a borderline nihilistic way of thinking though. You don't think it's sad that someone wants to leave this life (and in such a painful way), because maybe they think finding out what death is like might be better? I don't think there can be a conscious spiritual decision made to commit suicide and if this is what he did, it's really sad, especially if he thought it was an act of power.
9/7/2017 07:04:37 pm
Thank you for publishing this piece showing compassion and empathy. He was my cousin's husband and this news is heartbreaking. I only had the opportunity to meet him last year at a family reunion and I can say he exuded kindness. My prayer is for comfort and peace for his wife, his parents, his brother, and for his in-laws. We are all impacted by this tragedy.
9/8/2017 12:26:35 am
Speculating is subjective! We all are suffering, due to the present condition of the Body Politic in this country and elsewhere in the World. Annihilation has become a mantra once again. The Cold War is back. Population Explosion, Wars over Resources, Pollution on a Massive Scale-Worldwide, Threats against our National Parks, Debt, Racism, Ethnic Cleansing, Deportation, Immigration, Profiling, Black Lives Matter...etc.
9/8/2017 06:16:32 am
While I agree that compassion and empathy is the answer, I feel like this article does not include a lot of details and is a little judgemental.
9/13/2017 02:37:25 pm
It is really hard to take LSD for 3 days and have any effects after the first day. Who knows what happened but it is very, very unlikely that he was tripping for 3 days.
9/8/2017 03:01:49 pm
9/8/2017 03:07:31 pm
Tomorrow we celebrate the life of Joel.
9/8/2017 11:14:57 pm
If the participants who attend burning man would put half as much effort into the anti-war movement as they put into this event then perhaps their time would be better spent..............
Chuck U. Farley
9/8/2017 11:31:27 pm
It's a human tragedy plain and simple and having attended many of these events including the first 4 or 5 I can certainly think of alot of plausible explanations as to how this could transpire. How are they relevant our obsession with trying to explain death because for so many it's terrifying simply detracts from the lives we live and the meaning of them. It doesn't need to make sense just be there for each other life is fleeting and try to look out for each other.
9/9/2017 12:44:10 am
very well said, couldnt have said it better...nobody knows the circumstances...and ppl complaining about the future they are just assholes
9/9/2017 06:07:48 am
To be on the playa watching the city and the art grow from nothing to a bustling Wild West city in three or four days is overwhelming and hyper stimulation from all angles. I could see how someone that was not stable enough could possibly do this without any alcohol or drugs. With temps 105, 107, and 112 on three successive days 1/2 of a beer will exhaust you and disorient you. Trying any other substance will put you through the ringer. Almost everything is radially symetrical out the with huge moving art cars, tens of thousands of lit bicycles, and music at war battle levels. Either you gain sanity or lose it. Bless this man, for his battle with his sanity and continue positive thoughts for all mankind. This kind of thing is not specific to this event... it happens everywhere on earth.
9/19/2017 07:44:24 pm
I truly don't mean to be rude, but we should be more careful with how we report rumors. It was never "105, 107, and 112 on three successive days". The highest recorded temperature in Gerlach was 102 on Sunday, 9/3. I was out every one of those days in BRC. Yes, it was hot. No, it wasn't 112.
9/9/2017 07:05:28 am
The comments suggesting that 99% of people @ BM are high on LSD or the like are clearly posted by someone who has not been to BM and therefore should be taken with a grain of salt. Of course there is significant drug use there. The person complaining that their campmates don't shoulder their share of the setup/breakdown work should find a new place to camp. BM isn't ruined or over or jumped the shark or whatever. It is still getting stronger and the movement will continue to grow. As for Aaron, it is incredibly sad and tragic and to the author, I submit that while I agree with most of what you say, there is another appropriate response other than the one single one you propose to allow us. And that is "whatever you personally feel" because Aaron's suicide was likely deeply traumatic for anyone who witnessed it, and those people need to work through and process their emotions. Nobody has the right to telll them how to feel or react. That said, I too feel compassion for Aaron and his family and would encourage anyone to consider that sentiment as well. I think most people will eventually arrive at that place, but it will take time. Last but not least- I hae had some friends who took their own lives unexpectedly. Nobody knew what demons thy were struggling with. In both cases there was alcohol involved. I heard a radio interview with a suicide counselor who said that she never lot a patient to suicide when they had all of their faculties about them. In every case, "their defenses were down" due to some kind of substance use. Everyone is different. I didn't know Aaron or witness his passing. I would not be surprised to learn that he was under the influence of something at the time. The real question is whether that even matters at this point. I don't think it does. My guess is that if Aaron had suicidal thoughts, it might have happened at some other time in the future. It doesn't matter, what is done is done. The BM org will leanr from this and increase security. Aaron is not the first person to do this, it happened a few years ago at a regional as well, and some of the present security measures grew from that event. The Burn will continue, and I bet there will be many dedications to Aaron in next year's temple. I am deeply sorry for the loss of those close to Aaron, and also for the traumatic experience of those who witnessed his death. my deepest sincerest condolences and wishes for a thorough d meaningful healing from this. And to Aaron, yes, your action caused pain to many. Wherever you are I hope you find peace from whatever demons haunted you in that moment. I hope that as part of your memory, those in this comment board and across the burner community will honor your life by treating your passing with the 10 principles in mind, and that by bringing those principles into this default word experience, try to improve the things they come into contact with. I hope that is sensible and thoughtful for people here and Aaron's family and friends.
9/9/2017 09:57:48 am
I just read on a Brazilian site that the (Brazilian) photographer who took the picture of Aaron, it's actually a still from a video, doesn't think it was suicide and that it was an accident because Aaron actually fell over.
9/11/2017 08:20:30 am
I'm right along with you Maren, I've never been to a Burning Man festival and I probably never will. 😞
9/21/2017 03:29:44 pm
I am puzzled, as this is not the original blog your wrote about this incident. I no longer connect to your authentic voice, sorry!
9/21/2017 03:51:41 pm
Andie, don't be sorry. These things take the paths that they take. And some of it might be because you're not yourself a burner. You're welcome to join us whenever you want.
9/21/2017 06:30:40 pm
To all the negative people, when I first saw the news of this and watched the videos, the first thing I thought was "psychedelics". Now for the benefit of my response to you, lets say he was, and lets say he took them willingly. That does not mean that what he did was selfish or self centered. It means he was absolutely NOT in his right-mind. I spent 15yrs on dead/festival tours. I have seen and have personally been a victim to a altered mind. I have i feeling, that maybe he just had such a overwhelming sensation to be apart of the flames, but at the time not realizing he could get hurt. This may be hard for people to understand, if you've been in a situation like this. You should not condemn him, no matter what he was thinking whether in his right mind or not. To all of you condemning him, shame on you!!. I sure hope none of you are going to these amazing gatherings of beautiful minds, and infecting them with your vile hate. Grow a heart❤. To the family I am so so sorry for your tragic. NFA(~);}
10/3/2017 12:01:36 pm
To all those people intent on being angry with him - what is it that you want exactly? He literally could not have paid a higher price for what he did, there IS no more that he can do to atone for whatever it is you think he did wrong.
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