Live stream suicides seem to happen more and more, especially as our society deals with its current pandemic. However, the live stream suicide of Ronnie McNutt seemed to be more shocking than ones in the past.
Maybe it was the gruesomeness of a man’s head being split with a rifle slug, or perhaps the horrid event making it to the ‘recommended for you’ section on your 10-year-old nieces TikTok feed. Yes, this happened.
Whatever makes the Ronnie McNutt live suicide so shocking, it doesn’t make the event more or less sad. Ronnie McNutt, a 30-something-and-depressed Iraq veteran took his life and created a media shit-storm.
Even today over 100,000 searchers per month try to find the video of McNutt shooting himself. And if you are wondering, yes it is easy to find, and no, it is not on this website.
Ronnie McNutt was born May 23, 1987. Growing up, he was very close to his father, so when he suddenly passed away in 2018, it devastated Ronnie. On August 14, two weeks before his death, Ronnie took to his Facebook wall to share his grief.
“Today would have been dad’s 69th birthday. He was a powerhouse of a man. And I miss him every day. Our family just isn’t complete without him.”
Ronnie often vented through social media, his preferred method being Facebook Live, where he would discuss all things from theology, pop culture, his struggles, etc. His audience was used to this, and they all loved tuning in to see the latest McNutt rant.
One particular hot topic for Ronnie was his former military service and especially relating to his deployment to Iraq. I couldn’t find Ronnie’s actual MOS (his Army job), but he was serving in the Army Reserve and deployed from June 2007 to March 2008.
During his deployment, McNutt became inflicted with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, which has almost become synonymous with military soldiers these days.
Ronnie McNutt became a “disgruntled veteran”, and I use that term with no disrespect for any active duty or veteran soldier, but as a familiar term most service men would have heard before.
As a former veteran myself, with my own demons, I can attest to the challenges of exiting the military and adapting into civilian life.
Ronnie McNutt went from Iraqi war fighter to an autoworker for the Toyota Corporation. That’s a leap that is hard to make for even the strongest-willed veteran.
Joshua Steen, a close friend and and co-host of a podcast (JustUs Geeks) the two ran together, told Heavy.com, “He didn’t seem to be the same guy that left for Iraq once he exited the service. I spent many a late night in our studio, via text message, and in person talking with him about life and his struggles.”
Add a few too many alcoholic drinks, a recent split between his long-time girlfriend, and a loaded rifle, and you got.. well.
McNutt took his frustration, and now what we know was mounting depression, to his social media feed.
“He didn’t seem to be the same guy that left for Iraq.”
On August 31, 2020, Ronnie’s friends and family received the usual notification that his live stream was about to start. “I wonder what he will discuss tonight?” many thought.
This evening was different though, and many could soon sense and unease in Ronnie’s voice. His conversations began leading down a dangerous path, Ronnie was “incredibly drunk”, and a dark cloud of depression loomed over him.
Ronnie raised up his rifle, placing the barrel beneath his chin, and pulled the trigger. *CLINK* A misfire prompting his viewers, many friends and family, to call his cellphone repeatedly, but to no avail.
The police were dispatched and arrived at his apartment door in short order, using a speakerphone and pleading for him to rethink his next vital actions.
There was nothing anyone could do. Ronnie pulled back the trigger of his rifle one last time.
It was around the 10:30 pm when Ronnie’s “cheap, run-of-the-mill, single-shot rifle” worked properly, discharging a bullet, killing him instantly.
Did police do enough?
There has been a lot of discussion about how the police department handled the call. Could they have done more? Perhaps they could have saved him?
A patrolman here would have three primary directives. Foremost is to protect the public, which they did by evacuating all of Ronnie’s neighbors to safety. The second and third is to protect themselves and the suspect, which in this case was locked inside his apartment with a loaded rifle.
If police would have busted through the apartment door, Ronnie could have shot and killed an officer of the law. In the end, Ronnie’s decision was made, and the police did all they could do within reason to help him.
Social Media Nightmare
One Twitter user, who’s 10-year-old niece watched the video, claimed that she “woke up out of her sleep crying.” This was not an isolated incident. There are many people who saw the Ronnie McNutt suicide video unintentionally.
Facebook’s algorithm bureaucracies took over two hours to remove the live suicide video, and when they finally did, it was too late.
The video had already been making its rounds over to other social networks.
The video was shared on Instagram, among other sites, before finally making its debut premier on TikTok’s Recommended section.
(Obviously the TikTok executives did not do this on purpose, it like other social media platforms, uses algorithms and bots to highlight videos and photos that are gaining popularity – much like any live suicide stream would.)
There has been cries for social media reforms in hopes of sooner catching graphic content like this, but out of the billions of users, and millions of videos posted each day, this task seems insurmountable.
I’ll be honest, I’m covering this story because it is popular, and that’s just how news sites and blogs work. However, the real tragedy here is that if Ronnie McNutt didn’t live stream his suicide, his story wouldn’t haven’t even blipped any newsfeed.
Suicide and depression seem to live on the same street and like busy neighbors, never actually meet. But sometimes they do.
As for veteran-suicide, twenty-two active or former military men (and women) kill themselves per day.
If that seems like a lot, just remember it’s most likely under estimated.