The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Black Lives Matter activist kills himself on steps of Ohio statehouse

MarShawn M. McCarrel II, a young Ohio activist involved with the Black Lives Matter movement committed suicide on the steps of the Statehouse in Columbus. (Video: WBNS-10TV

A prominent young activist killed himself on the steps of the Ohio statehouse Monday.

MarShawn M. McCarrel II, a leading member of the state’s Black Lives Matter movement, shot himself outside the capitol’s entrance about 6 p.m. The 23-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene, State Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Craig Cvetan told the Columbus Dispatch.

“We don’t have any evidence to know the reason why he did it,” Cvetan said.

There were signs on social media that McCarrel had been struggling lately. His Twitter feed oscillated between joy and despair, and on the morning of his death, he tweeted an emotional goodbye.

“I love y’all,” he wrote. “All of you.”

Moments later, the message turned darker.

“If we don’t have to live through hell just to get to heaven,” he wrote.

By the afternoon, his social media postings had darkened further.

“My demons won today,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “I’m sorry.”

Just days before his apparent suicide, McCarrel had attended the NAACP Image Awards with his mother. A picture posted to Instagram showed him dressed in a red suit jacket and matching bow tie.

McCarrel helped coordinate Black Lives Matter protests in Ohio following the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager killed in 2014 by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo. He also founded a youth mentorship program and anti-homelessness efforts, according to the New York Daily News.

On Wednesday, Black Lives Matter Cincinnati’s Facebook page was flooded with tributes to McCarrel.

“An activist to his soul,” wrote fellow activist Shaun King. “Fought tirelessly in Ohio and beyond for the rights of oppressed people.

“Brother – we’ll keep fighting,” King wrote. “You rest, now.”