Hiding in Plain Sight: Alcohol and the Suicide of Trey Malone

It was with great sadness, professional interest, and morbid curiosity that I read the full text of a recent suicide’s note to his family and friends. It is almost unheard of that there be public access to such text, but the parents of this sad young man thought his final words to them should be shared with a large audience.

Grief takes many forms.

Thomas (Trey) Malone was a twenty-year-old on-again, off-again student at Amherst College who killed himself by jumping off the Sunshine Skyway (a bridge in Florida) on the Sunday afternoon of June 17, 2012.

Trey was a gifted writer. His suicide note is heart-breaking for all of the reasons you might expect, but for me even more so because Trey clearly was a literate young man who understood metaphor and allusion and used them both with grace and confidence.

Trey Malone competing with his prep school’s “Academic Olympics” team in 2009.

What is also clear is that Trey was deeply depressed—a condition he likely suffered for years and used alcohol to alleviate. Nevertheless, he beat back his monsters so decisively that he was Valedictorian of his prep school and was admitted to the highly competitive and highly ranked liberal arts institution, Amherst College. Things appear to have fallen apart when he arrived at Amherst. Trey left the New England campus before completing his freshman year, took some time off, then returned, again as a freshman, two years later, only to leave again after one semester.

What happened after Trey returned to Amherst in the fall of 2011 was but one of the steps on the path that ended at the Sunshine Skyway. Let Trey tell this part of his story in his own words:

the sexual assault was too much. There was no adequate form of preparation available for that and no repair afterwards. What began as an earnest effort to help on the part of Amherst, became an emotionless hand washing. In those places I should’ve received help, I saw none. I suppose there are many possible reasons for this. But in the end, I’m still here and so too is that night. I hold no ill will nor do I place an iota of blame upon my family. I blame a society that remains unwilling to address sexual assault and rape. One that pays some object form of lip service to the idea of sexual crimes while working its hardest to marginalize its victims. One where the first question a college president can pose to me, regarding my own assault is, “Have you handled your drinking problem?”

My story is far from exceptional in this regard. Every two minutes there is another victim. 97% of rapists will never spend a day in jail. 1 in every 6 woman in the US has been a victim of rape and 1 in 33 men. Despite this, every awful myth about rape persists. Society will continue to blame women for the clothes they wear (despite hard evidence showing no link) and continue to say, “You shouldn’t have been there” when 73% of rapes are committed by non strangers and more than 50% take place within one mile of the victims home. (4 in 10 take place at their home) Sexual crime is viewed as inconsequential unless the fabled “dark alley with a gun” assault occurs and even then, women face the eternal, “why were you there? What were you wearing?” badgering.

He continues what he calls his “rant” against sexual assault for another paragraph before beginning his bittersweet goodbyes.

Needless to say, when the disturbingly cloying blog The Good Men Project published Trey’s letter, it caused a stir on the campus of Amherst College.  President Biddy Martin quickly wrote to her community:

November 6, 2012

An open letter to the Amherst Community:

I write to you today with an enormous sense of sorrow. Yesterday, a website for the Good Men Project posted a suicide note written by a former Amherst student, Trey Malone, who took his own life in June 2012. Trey’s death is a tragedy. My deepest sympathies are with his family members and friends, who have suffered the most painful imaginable loss.

Suicide could not be more heart-wrenching. It leaves those who remain not only with incomprehensible loss, but also with painful questions—about what more could have been done, what any or all of us may have missed, what could have caused such a sense of isolation and despair.

Out of respect for Trey’s privacy and the privacy of his family, the College has not been public about what he experienced at Amherst. Trey’s note, parts of which we read in the summer, causes us to pause and reflect on the insights and perspective he wished to offer. The lessons in his words have informed the on-going changes we are making at the College directly. When I learned of Trey’s suicide this summer and after consultation with the Board of Trustees, I sought a review of the College’s response, and, for the purpose of informing our community, I share the following from that review:

Trey was a first-year student at Amherst in the fall of 2009, and again in the fall of 2011. In September of 2011, Trey reported a sexual assault involving another student. The College responded immediately to the report, provided Trey with access to support and resources, and in October of 2011 the College resolved the report through our disciplinary system, resulting in a finding of responsibility for the respondent. Through the remainder of the Fall semester, the College provided on-going outreach and support to Trey. In December of 2011, Trey requested, and the College granted, an academic withdrawal. In the Spring of 2012, Trey was discussing academic options with the Office of Dean of Students for what he hoped would be a return to Amherst.

The quintessential campus of elites, Amherst College.

Since learning of his death early this summer, I have often thought about Trey. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to meet or get to know him. In our brief conversation in December 2011, related to an appeal process, I offered him my sympathy for what had happened to him, asked whether he was getting adequate help, and sought to confirm his views on sanctions for the student who was found responsible for sexual misconduct. I recall being struck by the kindness in Trey’s voice.

While these facts can seem meaningless in the face of the loss of life, I am sharing information about our response, because I believe it relevant to our community’s understanding of this tragedy and to the dialogue we have been engaged in this semester. In recent days, this campus has come together to have frank and candid conversations about the community and culture we want and the many barriers to realizing our goals at Amherst, as elsewhere. I expect that we will face this news with the same courage, open dialogue, and care for one another that has marked our best responses to what we already knew.

The pain and finality of Trey’s suicide eclipse all other concerns, yet I call on us all to reflect on what we knew, accept that we cannot know everything, and learn from this horrible loss. The literature on suicide tells us that talking about suicidal thoughts or feelings helps to alleviate those feelings and, yet, the majority of students who contemplate suicide never tell anyone. Please make sure that you and those around you have the support you need. Pay close attention to your own feelings and behaviors as well as those of your friends and fellow students. I urge you to seek our help and ask you to encourage others to do the same.

As always, my door is open.

Sincerely, Biddy

President Martin’s letter is remarkable in its excessive length.  Many paragraphs were necessary to ensure she said of all of the words the college’s lawyers and risk managers put in her mouth, on top of the teachable-moment language student affairs staff insisted she insert.  What jumps out at me, however, are her fifth and sixth paragraphs, where she plainly contradicts Trey’s version of their conversation and where she just as plainly reminds readers that they only know one side of a complicated story.  Is she “blaming the victim”?  No, she is not.

I have never met President Martin, and don’t know much about her, but she has my sympathy for the no-win spot she finds herself.  Why do I believe her heavily censored version of what took place on a campus some 1200 miles away from where a former Amherst College student jumped off a bridge to his death and not that of the suicide?  Once again, Trey speaks for himself:

These days, I’ve become more tired of remembering the past and wondering about the future. I’ve slowly watched that future collapse in on itself whether by my own actions or those of others and now I’m simply tired. My future is rubble and while below that rubble, there is still a foundation, my arms are weak and my tools are broken. My job is gone, relationships strained, and mugshot posted.

The mugshot Trey mentions was taken the Friday before he died, when he was arrested for hosting a house party of over 100, resisting arrest, and assaulting a police officer.  Two misdemeanors and a felony.  It is not unreasonable to assume that Trey’s behavior that night was fueled by

Trey Malone, after his arrest on June 15, 2012, two days before he killed himself.

alcohol, especially given arresting officer Wildt’s finding that Trey’s underage sister Callan, present at the party along with other minors, had a BAC of .116.  Writes Trey about the party: “Callan, [w]hat happened over the last week has nothing to do with this, if nothing else, it was one helluva way to end it.” Nor is it unreasonable to assume that Trey did not understand that his abuse of alcohol might have been the source of his troubles and, ultimately, his inability to withstand them.  To his friends Trey says:

Sheng, Sorry I fell out of touch dude. You’re a great guy and I’m sorry that I’ll miss the parties. Make them count for me and even if it annoys you, try to take some Women and genders study classes. Tell nick I say hey (or bye I guess) as well. I’m not drunk enough to rant about politics right now, sorry. Either way, it meant more than you will ever know that you were such a good friend to me when I got back to Amherst.

Nathan- Freshman, you’re far too nice for your own good. No one dude, should be so willing to listen and talk. Sorry that I can’t give you the full story now, but I imagine the police report is funny as hell. Keep reading and do something important. Do me a favor and tell Sara Simonsson that my fake ID came in as well.

Everyone else, I’m sorry, my hand is falling off. If we were friends, remember me for at least a week or so. Please listen to what I said about sexual assault. There are millions more just like me that need help and no, someone who is drunk cannot give consent, fuckers.

Were Trey Malone still alive, I’d want to ask him exactly the same question he claims President Martin asked him.  This young man drank too much and encouraged others, including his own sister, to do the same.  The counselors who are in all likelihood running amok on the Amherst College campus to “educate about sexual assault” and “encourage students to come forward with their own experiences with sexual predators” have it all wrong.  They are addressing the consequences of the real problem instead of the problem itself: drinking by students who do not control the amount they drink.

Being drunk may have made Trey Malone an easy target for sexual assault.  It also lost him his job, got him charged with a serious crime, and gave him the “courage” to commit suicide.  His finger of blame should not be pointed at Amherst College.

May Trey Malone rest in peace.

For readers who’d like the facts about the relationship between sexual assault and alcohol consumption I highly recommend the .gov website College Drinking–Changing the Culture, created by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). For detailed information see: Alcohol-Related Sexual Assault: A Common Problem among College Students.

51 thoughts on “Hiding in Plain Sight: Alcohol and the Suicide of Trey Malone

  1. This article is poorly written, misinformed and authored by someone who will eventually find out that Trey Malone was a young man with a mom and dad who loved him a great deal and miss him every day. You say that you “don’t know a great deal about Biddy Martin” and yet you have clearly done a great deal of research into Trey Martin, his academic history of enrollment and taken leave of absences, etc… so I doubt this is true. You display an obvious and deceptive manipulation by presenting Biddy’s letter in its complete format but present Trey’s *actual* suicide note with your interspersed “comments” (as if that were appropriate at all). And you recklessly attempt to summarize Trey’s frustrations into “a struggle with depression” that he probably “struggled with for years” and “numbed with alcohol”. You didn’t know Trey. You cannot diagnose depression. Depression is serious and should be taken seriously. As is rape. As is assault. As are those things particularly when they go un-investigated, because, this elicits from the victim a feeling of hopelessness and will only augment their profound and long-term trauma. So, the bottom line is that this article is terrible. This article is an insult to Trey. It is an insult to people who have been raped. It is an insult to Amherst College. Because if there was one thing that could come about from such a horrifying event as this, it could be everyone acknowledging that crimes like these can be prevented by awareness, eduction, preventative measures and dealing with problems head-on through transparency and responsible leadership. Yes, young people must take responsibility for themselves. But the college must take responsibility, too. Particularly since the list of victims has been growing. Ms. Martin must take responsibility because the list is growing under her watch and she made the conscious choice not to report these crimes to the authorities. And you, Miss, must take responsibility as well. Because it is people like you, who put out manipulated, mis-informed information like this, that really hurts people. And people have hurt enough.
    And we miss Trey everyday.

    • 1. As I wrote: I do not know President Martin. I have no affiliation with Amherst College.
      2. As I wrote, “President Martin’s letter is remarkable in its excessive length.” Most readers would understand the point I am making by reproducing the whole, long letter.
      3. I provide a link to Trey’s entire suicide note so that readers may read it in its entirety. The letter was made public by his parents. Commenting on it is more than appropriate.
      4. I would appreciate it very much if you would point out where in my essay I “summarize Trey’s frustrations into ‘a struggle with depression’ that he probably ‘struggled with for years’ and ‘numbed with alcohol.'” No where did I write these words. You have made them up. Further, according to the Herald-Tribune.com: “The family of ‘Trey’ Malone said he suffered from depression.” I can only assume that Trey was depressed because his family said he was. Are you suggesting that they were mistaken in their “diagnosis”? Or that a young man who commits suicide is not depressed?
      5. If there is an insult to Trey in my essay, it is inadvertent. I am sorry he ended his life. I have sympathy for his family, as I do for all families who live with consequences of their loved ones excessive alcohol consumption.
      Thank you for writing.

      • To me it seems that Trey’s family opened the door for analysis when his suicide note was published, when they took him from victim to iconic example.

  2. Whether your insult was inadvertent or not it has been made . It was your conscious decision. Merely saying that you are only “sorry he ended his life…have sympathy for his family…who live with [the] consequences of their loved ones excessive alcohol consumption” is an ignorant, reckless, and personally elected position of denial of the sheer fact that this young man was raped on campus, troubled, and seeking help from an institution that did not, or, could not, help him. Did you ever consider that, if there were alcohol abuse, it may in fact, have been propelled by feelings of hopelessness from the fact that his assault case was not being taken seriously? And judging from your Herald Tribune reference, you are clearly up to date on your media coverage on the matter. You must, of course, be aware then, of the other victims of sexual assault on Amherst College campus, and, under the leadership of President Biddy Martin, who’s cases have either gone un-investigated and/or who’s perpetrators have gone un-charged?

    I can’t imagine anyone requiring to be called “Miss” overlooking those details. It just wouldn’t be classy.

    1.”What is also clear is that Trey was deeply depressed—a condition he likely suffered for years and used alcohol to alleviate.”

    Thank you for replying.

    • “Sexual assault” is a broad term that covers a multitude of behaviors, of which rape is but one. Nothing I have read, including the suicide note, suggests Trey was raped. Perhaps you possess information I do not.

      What is happening on the Amherst College campus is a drama that has been played out, and will continue to be played out, on many campuses. The overwhelming majority of sexual assaults on campus 1) are perpetrated by acquaintances; 2) do not involve forcible rape; 3) take place when one or both parties are drunk. The first step in correcting this problem is to reduce or eliminate the use of alcohol. The second step, which will not happen, would be to give up the feel-good charade that an intoxicated student is not responsible for what happens to her when she drinks.

      In my opinion, any student who thinks she has been raped should go straight to the police and report this most serious and terrible of crimes. In my experience, this almost never happens. Why? Because 1) the victim refuses to press charges; 2) the victim wants the administration to take care of the problem by expelling the perpetrator, preferably without the benefit of due process; 3) campus administration prefers to handle such matters internally as well because it is assumed that the campus process will be less traumatic for the victim. I feel for administrators who work with students in these situations. Nothing they do is “right.” If the matter is handled internally, it’s “swept under the carpet”; if it’s handed over the police then “the victim is put on trial.”

      Although I welcome all comments, I believe that ad hominem attacks on me (or any other writer) weaken arguments. Thank you for writing.

  3. Thank you for a cogent and thorough statement of the publicly available facts surrounding this matter. The facts indicate Trey was a deeply troubled young man and no college can solve those troubles. How can a school 1500 miles away from a student’s home help a student who is so depressed (per his family’s statement and his suicide) especially when the student has been there for just a few months? I find it interesting that there are those who want to place blame on a college with such limited exposure to this young man. Did he not have any longer term contact with any persons or other community institutions in his life who might have helped this young man?

    • This comment offends me, first as Trey’s friend, and secondly as a person without horrible opinions. He went to Amherst for help – not from “1500 miles away”, he went to their offices – and they chose to blame the victim first. This is exactly what you are doing, too, as though rape can be a) invited and then b) tolerated.

      Sure it’s rape, but “no college can solve those troubles,” right? This is awful and you are awful and should regret your opinion. Amherst owed their student a response that suits the gravity of rape as a crime. Trey went to THEM – not just some ambiguous “any persons or other community institutions” – someone vulnerable and in need of help went to them for help, and they buried the problem.

      While people are asking what they could have done to prevent this, you are instead doing the opposite.

  4. 1.None of the statements that you just presented were coupled with references, and frankly, this is because you will inevitably have a difficult time finding any for them. Gross generalizations or blanket statements about sexual assaults, or, anything for that matter are a losing game. They lack specificity and fail to acknowledge rate fluctuation year-to-year, geographical location, school-to-school disparities, economic level differences, private vs. public, religious affiliations, etc.

    2. Please note that when I am speaking about the sexual assaults or “rapes” that have taken place on the Amherst campus I am, indeed, talking about rape. I have no idea what you mean when you say “forcible rape”. Rape is always forcible. It certainly isn’t voluntary. Now, I know that you may claim “ad hominem” when I ask you this but I am dead serious and mean no offense: are you a Republican? I only ask because this particular stance of yours would be a dreadfully unfortunate stereotype if you were.

    3. Believe it or not, I whole-heartedly agree with you that any victim of sexual violence should always go to the police. And you are right, this does not always happen, for a variety of reasons. But you must understand that what President Biddy Martin has done, if you would read her publicly-released letter in response to the young woman who was raped (with force; and wrote an article about how the school failed to do anything about it) is to encourage students who have fallen victim to these crimes… go to campus security. Yes, campus security. No. Just no. With all due respect, I think we can all agree, that if you have just been raped, you call the police. I cannot believe we even have to discuss this. There is a fantastic article on Huffington Post right now with extensive interviews with municipal and state authorities stating that they were, at no point, ever, informed about these two particular cases (Trey and the young woman who later wrote the article). That is beyond alarming. Truly. Whether charges are filed or investigations are extended further, a report must be made. These are serious crimes.

    4. I need to be frank with you. You seem to be rather fixated on the idea of alcohol and you need to look at the bigger picture. Yes, alcohol can play a part in sexual assaults but it is not the sole reason. And if you honestly think that the “first step” to bringing down the rate of assaults is to eliminate alcohol you have a very limited understanding of basic societal and particularly, youth culture. Plainly put, good luck eliminating alcohol from university campuses. I don’t mean to offend you but you must understand that what you are proposing is simply unreasonable, unmanageable and unsustainable.

    5. What is sustainable is making sure that students who are raped get the help they need and that those responsible are brought to justice. With these particular cases that has not happened. This is what the facts tell us and that is not okay.

    This will be my last statement to you. I have taken the time to read some of your other statements on this website, as well as what others have to say about you elsewhere and have concluded that you are not someone that I feel any further discussion will be of any benefit.

    Warm Regards,


  5. I think that that millions on unskilled immigrants we are welcoming into the country should do a lot of mitigate this issue. Since few of them will be attending college, and private colleges will not have the money will pay their way, most private colleges will be closed in the next 50-60 years. Problem solved!

  6. My sense of things, gathered from 25 years of working with young people, living in a college town for 20+ years, and being well acquainted with many people who deal with issues of bad behavior on campus (including academic administrators, campus security people, EMTs, etc,) is that ‘Miss’ is correct- alcohol is a huge contributing factor. In addition we raise our kids in a culture that promotes, no celebrates, no-consequence sex, perhaps one of the greatest lies perpetrated on America’s youth- see Tom Wolfe’s I am Charlotte Simmons for further details. We send our 18 year-olds off to school where they have very few restraints on their “private” behavior. Add in booze and one has a toxic brew indeed. I went to school in the ’70′s, and while we were not choirboys, the use/abuse of alcohol seems much worse now. How to fix it?- no idea- perhaps a return to ‘in loco parentis’ would be a place to start.

    • Thank you for understanding the point I’m trying to make. I thought I was pretty clear, but some readers have found my writing obscure. You are much clearer on this subject than I.

      I have done a lot of thinking about “in loco parentis.” Here’s what I think: back in the 60’s-70’s when this most sensible of policies was consigned to the dustbin of “irrelevancy” (We’re old enough to die in ‘Nam, we’re old enough to stay up late!) it was because students, their parents, and college administrators bought into the fiction that college students are adults. Forty (sorry) years later, we have extended childhood to age 26 (thanks to Obamacare), seen our college campuses invaded by a fleet of helicopter parents, and deal with students who text mom and dad on an hourly basis. Yet we persist in believing the fairy tale that these coddled creatures are “adults,” while at the same time offering a up a buffet of support/counseling/identity services to prop them up when their feelings get hurt.

      College campuses today are in the worst of all possible places…they are expected to be in loco parentis, but without any of those silly rules that suggest their wards are not, in fact, grown ups at all.

    • Yes, at some colleges. AC cops really are officers of the law–not security guards. You must be acquainted with another campus.

  7. Miss:
    At the risk of being labeled some sort of paleolithic meanie pants I think it’s pretty clear that J. Maple has some personal issue(s) that go far beyond anything you may have articulated, failed to articulate, or considered articulating. I spent five years working with thousands of undergraduate students. All those kids displayed maturity or immaturity to varying degrees. Most of them could handle whatever life threw at them. Some of them couldn’t. Some of them tried to deal with their problems with alcohol. Alcohol was the problem for some. You can’t protect people, including college kids, from everything. That includes their personal demons..

  8. Miss-
    Thank you for gelling so much of my understanding of this unfortunate tale.
    I am an occasional contributor to GMP and from the onset Mr. Malone’s story as depicted there and elsewhere has bothered me.
    First-I am distraught thinking that for Trey’s family & friends the despair of rape is preferable to the admission that he suffered from mental illness and have chosen to present his suicide as a reaction to external pressures.
    Second- in a troll filled anonymous world how it that all these rapists running amok at Amherst have not been outed?

    • Standup–Thanks for writing. We have no way of knowing, of course, whether Trey Malone suffered from mental illness, but we do know that he used alcohol to excess. We also do not know the nature of the sexual assault that took place at Amherst College. It almost certainly was not a rape, because nowhere in his letter does Trey say that he was raped, and, given his expressed feelings on the matter, it’s reasonable to assume that if he was raped, he would’ve said so.

      I have not been following all of the upset at Amherst over sexual assault. At the risk of sounding pompous, I have heard it all before. College students can do awful things to one another, up to and including rape. In most cases (as in almost every one) drugs or alcohol voluntarily consumed are involved. In many cases, the “victim” realizes s/he has been victimized only after sobering up. As a culture we absolve drunks of their promiscuity and privilege them to the point that they bear no responsibility for the consequences of their inebriation and poor choices. This I do not understand.

      Please share this post with others you think might have something to add to the discussion. It is a painful but important story.

      Again, thank you for writing.

      • Miss, Trey was my son, naturally I have an interest in what you have written. After reading your article and your ensuing comments I would suggest you rely less on conjecture and supposition and base your discussion on fact. If facts are unavailable, best to be silent
        Thank You
        Dan Gaffney

      • Dear Mr. Gaffney: You have my deepest sympathy for the loss of your stepson Trey.

        I must ask, however, to what “conjecture and supposition” you refer.

        That Trey was a gifted writer? That he was an accomplished student? I would have thought the evidence spoke for itself.

        That Trey had a problem with alcohol so grave that because of it he was arrested for assaulting a police officer and sponsoring an underage drinking party? I would have thought the evidence spoke for itself.

        That Trey was depressed? I would have thought his suicide spoke for itself.

        Thank you for reading my blog and leaving your comments.

    • “Second- in a troll filled anonymous world how it that all these rapists running amok at Amherst have not been outed?” This is the same thing that I have been trying to figure out!!! Even in his suicide letter this young man did not name any names and absolved everyone of guilt except the school and society? This is very strange…

  9. Ma’m: I am just a parent, shocked and saddened by the whole story. It is not clear to me from the article and other reports I read whether this boy was depressed and alcholoic even before he joined Amherst. Was he? I assumed not because of the following reasons. He seems to have done very well at the school he studied-Out Door Academy. The reports I read are mainly about his swimming and athletics, cogent valedictory speech etc. Amherst selects only less than 10% of its applicants, using a holistic selection process. Would they select a depressed alchoholic while rejecting validictorians from many other schools? If, after joining Amherst, an underaged boy becomes an alcholic, gets raped and goes into depression, in some sequence of events, how can we entirely absolve the institution? How can we as adults say that when such a bright teenager loses all hope in 3 years say that our society is not to blame? The only way Amherst can say that it is responsible for the death is by saying that it made a wrong choice in admitting a boy who totally did not “fit” in the prestigious college.

    • Thank you for writing. You make many good points. It’s pretty clear that Amherst was not a good fit for Trey, and it’s pretty clear he knew it. How else to explain his leaving before the end of his first freshman year? The sexual assault–we do not know if it was rape–did not occur until his second freshman year.

      Many bright and talented kids are also depressed, who knows why? Trey came from a broken home, could that have played a role in his depression? Who can tell?

      In the end, however, it was Trey’s choice to drink and Trey’s choice to end his life. I hold neither Amherst College nor society responsible for those actions.

  10. that last statement makes the most cogent point with suicide, as well as the life choices people make. it all boils down to individual responsibility. the decisions we make and the actions we take are our own individual responsibility. we have crafted a society where blaming others releases us from taking responsibility for our own mistakes. it’s easy to play the blame game for this event, but in the end, mr. malone made the choice to step off that bridge. no one was up there shoving him off.

  11. For those interested in understanding more of the dynamics at play here, I strongly recommend the book, “The Sexually Abused Male” by Mic Hunter. I am a physician who has counseled many men who have been sexually abused. It is in that context that I share my perceptions.

    It is unfortunate that Trey’s last words seem largely wasted. Amherst, no doubt is a liberal college with at least an academic understanding that males can be sexually abused, but they still operate, like everything else in society, in the context of a patriarchy that has little understanding if not outright ridicule of the concept that adult males can be sexually abused or assaulted. Trey expected something of Amherst that really does not exist anywhere. Sexually victimized men have no lobby.

    Victims of sexual assault, whether male or female, react with shame. They feel responsible and try to hide what has happened to them. They fear ridicule, blame or disbelief if they disclose Men who are sexually assaulted by other men may feel profoundly inadequate for not having staved off the attack. They may have a new found confusion about their sexuality. THey will have anger issues and may act out their own abuse against others. THey may develop psychosomatic symptoms and suffer anxiety and major depression. They may medicate themselves with alcohol or drugs. Trey does not share in his lengthy note how his abuse affected him personally, There is a high likelihood that his alcohol abuse is a response to his sexual assault and not the primary problem, especially given what we know about his pre-college life.

    We do not know the nature of the sexual assault nor do we know the gender of the offender. Trey could have shared that in his suicide note, but he chose not to. This does not suggest to me that he wasn’t raped. .Rather, it suggests that whatever happened to him, it was too shameful for him to give it voice even in his death.

    In my experience, Trey’s case is an outlier only in the sense that he came publicly forward.

  12. You should read someone else’s story here (there’s also some more information about the dean): http://amherststudent.amherst.edu/?q=article/2012/10/17/account-sexual-assault-amherst-college

    Blaming the victim is part of the reason why Trey Malone speaks about the callousness of the administration. It’s attitudes like yours which pay no mention to the attacker AT ALL. WHY don’t you ask yourself what the hell the attacker was doing attacking? Whether Trey was drunk or not, the attacker ATTACKED him, and if that is something you cannot get into your head, you are just as horrendous and unfeeling as the administrators who are clearly more concerned with covering their own tails than with the actual victim and just giving him some help.

    Trey did not get raped because he had a drinking problem. He was a victim. Plain and simple. It’s sad he had to die because suicide is a sad affair, but that is not the only thing wrong with this story. Your take on the story is incredibly troubling. I don’t understand where your negativity and ignorance stems from. He’s dead and the only question you want to ask him is whether his drinking problem is what caused all of this. You clearly place all of the blame on Trey and none on anyone else. I hope you are reading the comments here and trying to understand where other people are coming from.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I read the essay by Miss Epifano when it first came out. It is so terribly sad that she waited over a year to report her rape. I can only imagine her mental anguish during that time, as she fell into an abyss of despair that took her so long to climb out of. I hope she is doing well at the dude ranch.

      As I have written before, I have seen no evidence that Trey Malone was “attacked,” let alone “raped.” If you know it to be true that his sexual assault was a rape, then you have sources I do not–hence my “ignorance.” Perhaps you will share them. There is ample evidence that he drank to excess. Whether he was subject to an unwanted advance from a drinking buddy, groped by a guest at a Saturday night party, date-raped by someone he was seeing, or set upon by a stranger jumping out the bushes behind Valentine Hall, inebriation rendered Trey physically and mentally vulnerable to sexual assault of any kind. This is not “blaming the victim”; it is stating a fact.

      It is deeply troubling to me how many comments (and I would include yours) suggest that their writers are in deep denial about the very real problem of alcohol abuse on college campuses, and the devastating consequences of that abuse. I strongly urge you to educate yourself by clicking on the links at the end of my article. Perhaps it might occur to you that some sexual assaults on campus have a root cause for both victim and perpetrator.

      • Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you for this thorough, thoughtful and TRUTHFUL analysis. The stories I hear from my two college students are mind-blowing! I am honestly surprised that there aren’t even more cases of sexual assault. In many instances the parents are fully aware that their children drink, even drink to excess, and they are not at all alarmed. Most of these kids are professional drinkers before they leave home for college, preventive measures need to be aimed at high school students.

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  15. I was going to find Trey’s Huff Post article when I stumbled across this page which I had yet to see. This is the saddest and most disgusting attempt to explain Trey’s situation I’ve seen. That was my party with my high school friends. Trey didn’t condone it. Trey didn’t throw it. Trey didn’t supply the fucking alcohol. The fact that you can write this bullshit article and still feel okay about yourself is sad. An easy target? Trey was depressed, yes. And just like every other person at that party that night at Amherst, Trey was drunk. The other hundreds of binge drinkers weren’t raped by another man and then told that the student that had raped them would be allowed to continue his education at Amherst, however. I can’t put into words how sad it is to see that you took so much interest in my brother’s story to end this article pointing the finger at his “alcoholism”. Do me a favor, get off your high horse, and for lack of better words, go fuck yourself.

  16. Who do you think you are? You don’t know anything about my son Trey or my daughter. Why even take the time to say all of these things? You are clearly intelligent. Use that talent to help others rather than to hurt. We hurt for Trey and we are forever changed and lessoned by his death. Have some compassion, man.

  17. 1) Before last night I had not known about this boy.
    Here are a few things that I found upsetting.
    A. Who are you to write about this? Where you asked? If so who?
    B. knowing this would get back to his family why write it so poorly? It’s not a shock to see so many upset about how and what you have written.
    C. Mr Daniel was this boys son…. It doesn’t take blood to be related… I too have a step child that I guarantee you that I would fight you to Hell and back if you ever thought I wasn’t her parent. So if you think taking under the belt jabs on some…. It shows just how little of a person you truely are. That alone made me discussed with you.
    D. I am a parent of 3 beautiful children an if for any reason my child is harmed… You have my promise I will take everyone down… Including little uneducated smart A holes who have nothing better to do then to pick on, or write poorly about someone who isn’t even here to defend himself. If he was hurting that bad, trust me it wasn’t the alcohol that helped him over the bridge. It’s negative stuff like this that just shows once again Trey was right….
    I met his dad last night. He clearly showed love and respect for both of his children, pet, and even his wife. You should be ashamed of yourself…. Had your parent not tought you any respect? Damn this is got me scared for the safety of my own children. I don’t know anything about you. But my guess is your young, smart, but don’t have children. If I am correct, it would explain a lot. You do write beautifully, and it clearly shows you are smart. I just wished you could stand back reread what has been rewritten… And make changes so it doesn’t make the victim look like the bad guy. He was a kid… Who was raped, he was a kid…. He drank alcohol, it didn’t make him a bad kid… It made him a kid, everyone at one point or another does stupid stuff, it doesn’t make us bad. We learn as we grow. The boy wasn’t heard, he felt no way out… Leave it alone writing about it isn’t helping. If you want to help… write and provide ways to help stop suicide. When you write about that, tag me on it and I will cheer you on and back you up 100%. I will even help get your article out. I just cannot cheer you one for this one. Like I said, before last night I didn’t know anything about this family. For now on I will think of this family, every holiday, celebration, an most likely every day in between. No parent whether a biological, step, adopted, blue, green, or yellow parent should have to deal with the loss of their child. My heart poors out for this family and other alike. I am glad I met Treys dad, even if it was for a brief moment. Chances are I won’t ever have the opportunity to talk with him or his family again, but I am glad I did… And for me and my house….. We will keep them in our prayers.

    • Jen:
      A) Trey Malone’s family put Trey’s suicide note on the Internet for all to read and comment on.
      B) Please clarify: do I write “poorly” or do I write “beautifully” (as you state in point D)? Decisions, decisions.
      C) Trey Malone’s suicide note addresses his father, not his stepfather.
      D) ????

  18. Of course you’re entitled to your analysis, but why, oh why the “snark,” Miss? Your clever writing and rapier wit in your responses is just brilliant. And that undercurrent of “gotcha” just shines. Still-grieving family and friends have little armor against you. You win.

    • Why, thank you. I was not aware that I had entered a competition, but a win is a win. Please enlighten me, however, by pointing out the “snark” in my essay about Trey Malone. That is, if you can find it.

      Thank you for writing.

      • I just wanted to express my shock at the level of blame that is being placed upon the victim in this article and in related comments. I actually found the whole thing quite offensive. Speaking from my own experience as well as other anecdotal evidence some of the reasons people do not report these kind of occurrences is that they fear they will not be believed and may even be blamed. These concerns are usually heightened if alcohol or drugs were involved. The views taken by the author of this article are completely unhelpful and are, in the UK at least, increasingly going out of fashion as people are better educated on such issues.

        To say that the way to reduce sexual assaults is to limit drinking is unrealistic especially when it comes to university students. Again this concept portions blame on the victim, as if to say that they were asking for it or almost deserved what they got. Correct me if I am wrong, but I could not see any point in this article where the perpetrator of the assault was held to account.

        This article puts forward the view that sexual assaults are the consequences of a failure to drink in a responsible manner; which is surely a complete over simplification of the problem. The author also appears to suggest that alcohol was the cause of Trey Malone’s problems and eventual suicide. There doesn’t seem to be any clear evidence to say he was overly drunk when he suffered the assault, and even if he was, he was a 20 year old student. Drinking is not unheard of among this section of society (it certainty does not make him in anyway blameworthy for what happened). All the other issues cited, loss of job, arrest etc. were events after the assault. Does this not at least suggest the possibility the assault was the cause of the drinking and thus at the core of these problems? It is common for people, after having such an experience to turn to anything they can in order to get through it.

        After my own experience of such an assault I began drinking as a way of coping which lead to a fairly lengthy drug addiction. When I was diagnosed with having PTSD a lot of things began to make sense and I realised I wasn’t going crazy. I know this isn’t a popular view but drugs probably saved my life in a round-a-bout way- without them to numb the pain I probably would have killed myself too. (Although, they did also set me back about a decade and nearly kill me countless times as well…don’t do drugs!)

        It seems the facts of this case were seen in only such a way as to corroborate the authors pre-existing opinions. Perhaps alcohol is a contributing factor to some cases of sexual assault but relying on the expectation that people will stop drinking because you tell them to is basically inaction. This is especially true in students. There is a new pilot scheme being introduced here, in the UK, aimed at informing those at university about what consent is and isn’t. What this and the debate it has stirred up (and many of the comments here) has shown is that people (both men and women) are very confused about this issue. I don’t know how successful this scheme will be but it aims to educate possible perpetrators, change society’s perceptions and reinstate boundaries rather than marginalising victims and telling them they must shoulder some of the responsibility for the fact that they were raped.

  19. I am slightly surprised to read your commentary here, though I do respect your right to post it. Neither you, me, nor a myriad of others who have heard about Trey’s story or read his last words know the specific details of any of this “situation” (for lack of a better word), as I think you would probably agree. We are left with the parting words of a young man, the public response of a college president, and the recollections and opinions of others involved in any way; unfortunately, we will never be able to draw definite conclusions when there are so many facts permanently unknown. You wrote many things, and I appreciate the sincere thought you seem to have put into your blog post. There were two things to which I felt particularly compelled to respond.

    The first is in regards to a statement you made at the outset, regarding your professional interest in Trey’s note and the events that he referenced. I’m curious about what your professional background is; I had initially assumed it was in a clinical social work/psychology field, but by the end I thought otherwise. I’ll confess that I’m a licensed therapist, and one of the core emphases of my education and training was the importance of understanding that we only know what we know about a specific case. A major goal of professional supervision is to gain a second (oftentimes more experienced) consult in order to provide clients with the best possible care. My gut reaction- after reading both Trey’s note and Martin’s response- was that there are so many unknowns in this situation, and to remind myself that despite my strong emotional reaction, I would be sorely remiss to draw a professional opinion from the literal (and figurative) black and white. By the conclusion of your piece, my impression was more that you are experienced in higher education administration; if such is the case, your skill set is different than mine, and I’ll agree to the possibility that your field has a standard of professional opinion that likely differs from mine.

    Perhaps more importantly to me was the conclusion of your penultimate paragraph, where you stated the importance of “addressing the consequences of the real problem itself.” We are in definite agreement of the importance of that concept, yet I don’t know that we could differ more starkly in our estimation of the “real problem itself.” My previous professional position was as a substance abuse therapist with adults, and one of the most fundamental assumptions of our organization’s work is that substance abuse is always a symptom. I can not think of a single individual with whom I have worked at any agency in any capacity who’s struggles with alcohol or any other drug arose without being prompted by specific environments and/or circumstances. I can only speak to what I have read of Trey’s background, but from what I can surmise, alcohol was not a lifelong problem for Trey. From his own words, it seems that alcohol was present in some form the night he was assaulted… and at the same, I would hazard a bet that if he is anything like the rest of us who have survived sexual violence, his struggle with alcohol likely increased tenfold in the nine months and six days between his assault and his death. Of equal importance- for me at least- is a reminder that correlation does not mean causation.

    The spirit of a law- the underlying core values and sentiment that guided its development in the first place- is far more important to me than the penalties of the law. Why do we have speed limits? Because the act of speeding in and of itself is the problem, or because the repercussions of speeding have become so devastating that elected representatives decided to enact legislation to prevent it? From my understanding, it is almost always the outcome that we are trying to alter. I won’t ever deny the importance of adequate substance abuse prevention and treatment efforts, particularly on a college campus. But what I am struck by so starkly here is the implication of your statement: that if Trey had not been intoxicated, the assault would never have happened. To that, I purely call bullshit.

    Rape and sexual assault do not occur because of the presence of alcohol nor alcohol abuse. There are many times when they are undeniably linked and one is involved with the other, but the presence of one does not guarantee the presence of another. For many years, suicide prevention efforts focused on treating depression until many researchers from many randomly-controlled trials- utilizing research methods of the highest quality- demonstrated without a doubt that evidence shows us targeting depression does not lower the statistics of suicide. The same principle applies here. The premise of your statement is that without alcohol abuse, sexual assault would not occur; after all, it is a “consequence… of the problem itself: drinking by students who do not control the amount they drink.” Do you really believe that? I hope not… I hope I have misunderstood you.

    Because for myself- as a survivor of multiple instances of rape and sexual assault where alcohol was not involved on the side of the perpetrator nor victim- that would mean that what I endured was not the “problem.” Since alcohol was not present- which is the problem, by your words- there is perhaps not any problem at all. To say that is invalidating is an understatement; to say that makes me question my right have survived is an understatement; to say that it has not forever altered both my being and my life is an absolute untruth. I hope to God that the counselors at Amherst were “running amok… to ‘educate about sexual assault’ and ‘encourage students to come forward with their own experiences with sexual predators.'” In my professional opinion of the facts as I understand them, that is the absolute minimum they should have been doing… I can only hope that they were also doing it nine months and seven days before Trey took his life. In my dealings with university administrators regarding such crimes- these that violate the very core of human dignity- I emphasize two things: the importance of not only prevention, but of compassionate personal, institutional, and systemic response in the aftermath. In those heart-wrenching, mind-twisting situations in which sexual assault occurs- because, so unfortunately, they will continue to occur in the foreseeable future- prevention efforts become moot. And when such is the case, I insist as a professional and as a victim that those involved in higher education administration respond compassionately.

    For those staff and faculty members in this position, you are one of the most important people in the survivor’s life right now in this very moment. Your job is no longer assault prevention; it is compassionate response. It is validation in the aftermath of violation… acknowledgement instead of denial… empowering instead of dehumanizing. Please do not further traumatize a traumatized individual. Trauma does not heal trauma. Instead, do your best to be there.. be present as if it was your own brother, sister, son, daughter, anyone who you care about. Please don’t point fingers; every survivor is already pointing enough mental fingers to serve a life sentence towards him/herself. Ask what the survivor needs, and if you can not provide that, please honor the spirit of it; you can not turn back time, but you can agree with him/her that you would if you could. This, this right here, begins to eat away at what I consider to be the “real problem itself,” and which it seems Trey did, as well: “a society that remains unwilling to address sexual assault and rape. One that pays some object form of lip service to the idea of sexual crimes while working its hardest to marginalize its victims.” The very belief that sexual violence is not the core problem is, in and of itself, the exact core problem.

    I never met Trey… I likely never would have. But, Trey, I am with you somewhere in thought if not in spirit. As you said, there ARE millions more like you who need help; I am one of them, as are countless others silenced by shame, self-hatred, stigmatization, and fear borne of institutional responses of denial, blame, and non-compassion. No, someone who is drunk can not give consent any more than an individual who is high can than an underage child can than an individual with an intellectual disability can, and so on and so on. Rape is rape; it is never justified, it is never deserved, and it can never be taken back… oh, how I wish it could. This, however, I can do: I will work towards the effective prevention and treatment of alcohol abuse and dependence, because that is indeed important. But more importantly for me, I will continue to work towards the elimination of the culture of acceptance that exists in the minds of so many who deny the premise of sexual violence as being a human rights violation that must be acknowledged as a core problem by all in our society.

    You deserve that. I deserve that. Everyone deserves that by virtue of our very humanity. I hope and pray that no one else has to wait until they too become a victim of rape or sexual assault to understand this. There are far, far less painful ways to learn, understand, and change.

    Call Me Miss- thank you for starting a dialogue about such important ideas and values, and though we may have fundamental disagreements about the notion of sexual assault as being the core problem that needs solving here, I hope and trust that we both have the best of intentions.

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