Trey Pennington Was Not Alone

He offers us advice on one way to help avoid this tragedy in the future:

“Here’s something you can do right now, right where you are, and you don’t even need a book to show you how: when that next person walks into your office, calls you on the phone, or sends you an email, stop to seriously ponder the question, “Why am I glad this person is on the planet?”

When you have the answer to that question, take it from your mind, put it into words, and give those words to that person.”

– Trey Pennington

Trey, a fellow 8pm Warrior, killed himself this morning at a church in Greenville, SC. He was an amazing speaker, thinker, writer, and warrior.  He had a beautiful mind. Trey also suffered from depression.

This tragedy reminds me of a quote:

Be kind.  Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

– Plato

When I wrote the “Fighting a Hard Battle?  You’re Not Alone!” post in June, I was not surprised by how many of my fellow warriors felt the same way.  Pain is all around us.

  • We must learn to share our battles.
  • We must find the time to be kind.
  • We must push ourselves to avoid tragedies like this.

If you need someone to talk to, let’s talk.  You’re worth it.

No warrior left behind.

Have a kind night,


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Published by Aaron Biebert

I'm a director, film/video exec producer, leader & 8pm Warrior. I am passionately chasing my goals at all times. I'm listening. Let's talk!

47 comments on “Trey Pennington Was Not Alone”

  1. “No warrior left behind.” For sure. I’m with you on that.

    Robert Eby
    -Life Skills Coach
    -NLP Master Practitioner

  2. In the Gospel of Matthew, Christ says, “do not be anxious, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” Matthew 6:31-32

    Money, fame, and power don’t count for much – not like we think they do when we want them. When we don’t have as much as we’d like of them. They do not give peace to us like love, hope, and faith give to us. Actually, money, fame, and power come with troubles.

    They come with more tests. Been there. Done that!

    Anxious About Tomorrow

    Yesterday, I was thinking about all the things I wanted and wasn’t getting. I was thinking about the general want for more than enough so that I could easily do the things I want to do. And without delay.

    And my tentative conclusion was this:

    When our prayers are refused, I suspect that the refusal was made to advance our happiness and highest aspirations – not prevent them.

    Christ further explains himself in Matthew:

    “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.” Matthew 6:33-34

    One of our greatest problems of anyone who wants to do amazing things is that we are anxious about tomorrow. And the day after that. Etc. 8pm warriors do not allow themselves to be at peace with today.

    Trey Pennington

    I learned of Trey’s death last night from Scott Stratten’s post. Like many others, I was surprised to hear of it. I didn’t know him, but I knew of him. And I know that many people thought very highly of Trey.

    Over the course of the night, people shared their surprise of the bad news about Trey’s suicide. Prayers and sympathies were expressed for Trey’s family and friends. Some discussed the problem of depression. Others, mental illness.

    Looking at the landscape of sympathy for Trey, it was made clear to me that though Trey despaired for that which he lacked, the man had much for which to be thankful.

    As an observer, I can see that Trey had 111,288 followers on Twitter. He had 5,000 friends and 1,526 fans on Facebook. Eulogies are popping up in blog posts across the blogosphere. All of which reflect the things for which he had cause for peace and thankfulness.

    Friendship and Responsibility

    Beyond the many splendored gifts of heaven, our accomplishments in service to our truest self and highest aspirations, and sustenance – we all need deep connections with others. We need to share ourselves, give, and serve. We need also to receive and be served.

    These are things that I have been thinking about since I wrote my blog post on the economics of friendship. Despite all those “friends”, we have to acknowledge that the failure of friendship in Trey’s life was as terrible as his hopelessness. If the chemicals were off in his brain – it’s in part because he wasn’t getting what he needed from all friends.

    If you believed yourself Trey’s friend, waiting for Trey to die to express your readiness to do anything and everything to give him cause to live – is no demonstration of friendship in my uninformed opinion. If you dared to consider yourself a friend of Trey, you failed big time.

    Second Chances

    But there’s hope for the so-called friends of Trey. They can repent. They can commit themselves to love, give, and serve all the friends that remain. They can change. They can make a difference. But will they?

    1. Not sure who you are and how you knew Trey nor why you feel that calling out his friends is going to change the outcome.

      One you must not know much about depression. It is not a matter of your friends loving you, if that was the case then many folks who commit suicide would still be alive as they had great friends.

      I have saved friends from suicide. We cannot save them all, we are not responsible for their choices. We can do as much as they allow us. SO you judgmental attitude is not something Trey would have approved of.

      What can we do? We can start with us and be more forgiving to ourselves. Thing is will you?

    2. Stan, I deeply appreciate the time you spent organizing this comment. Wow!

      I found myself sitting in a church 18 months ago openly weeping about the perceived failure of my life. Was my life a failure? No. I needed a new perspective. I needed loved ones to offer me some of the advice you offered above.

      Now I find myself in a better place. Focused more on family. More humble. More thoughtful. More thankful.

      Thank you for those thoughts.

      As for the last part of your comment, I gave thought to how I would try to help Trey if I was a close friend. Would I move in with him to watch him 24/7? Would I travel on every flight with him around the world? Would I call him hourly to monitor his mood?

      No. After time, it would wear off. It’s only human. His close friends are hurting so badly now and I don’t think it’s right to blame them. He was suffering from a mental illness that doesn’t always lead to open communication. Yes, they could have done more, but could they have saved him on their own?

      Probably not.

      I respect you and your love for fellow humans quite a bit, and I don’t want to see your intentions taken the wrong way.

      Stan, I appreciate you.

  3. The Warriors are, by nature, very bright, aware people, and this state of awareness often spins up the ‘curse of intelligence’… the madness/genius trait. We more often than not live in our minds, confusing that constant psychological battleground as real life, which it isn’t. It’s the mind that takes us down… shreds us…

    RIP Trey.

    1. Les, I agree. The world inside our minds is often worse than the world outside. It’s always important to remember the private battlegrounds others have and seek to help if possible.

      I appreciate your thoughts Les.

      1. I also think it poetic justice and perfectly understandable to me personally that he would do this at the church…the church being the one place a soul is supposed to be able to bare the soul and heal the heart…but he, like me and many others, did not receive it there and if like me, experienced quite the opposite. I want to write a book about the rediculous experiences I’ve experienced at the hands of ‘the faithful’.

        1. Churches can be sharp double-edged swords.

          They can heal the hurting, or hurt the healing. I’ve seen both and am always disappointed when some institutions fail at their core mission.

          It’s really sad.

  4. Wise words from Trey, wise words from you Aaron. NOTHING we “have” to do is more important than the people in our lives. NO ONE says they wish they’d worked more on their death-bed!

  5. I am affected by this man that I never met today. I am affected by the screaming WHY?!?! that echoes in my desperately searching heart, again for someone I never met. But I have met him. He is me. He is all of us. He like all of us had simply decided he could not take one minute more of the madness..the drone..the inability to hear and feel life at the level he wanted. I feel like that alot. We all do at times if we are honest.

    1. I know I have felt it.

      I also wonder why and then realize that the question may never be answered. Depression is a dangerous condition, one that is often overlooked.

      Thanks for your thoughts.

  6. Because Trey was known to me because he is from Greenville and he was heavily involved in social media, the news of his death shook & surprised me. I still do not know what to think and many of my friends that knew him IRL are very upset and confused about this.

    As someone that battled depression long ago, I know how hard a battle it can be. If you fight this battle, you are not alone. My heart goes out to Trey’s family & friends.

  7. This news breaks my heart. I only knew Trey very indirectly, as we followed each other on Twitter and retweeted each other’s content from time to time. I admired what he stood for, albeit from a distance. His death is a blow. Suicide from depression is not a rational act. I hope his wife and children realize this and are able to forgive him for leaving them in this sudden, painful manner. My heart goes out to anyone who feels so inconsolably low that they would even contemplate such an act.

    Outstanding post, Aaron. I know you are not trying to blame anyone for “letting” Trey do this. This is a rallying cry for others in the community who might need their friends’ support. Bravo for that.

    1. Hey Ted, thanks for adding your thoughts. As you said, I’m definitely not out to blame anyone. We need to rally each other to support those in need and catch our friends before they fall.

  8. I did not know Trey online or off, only knew of him. Although, I am very familiar with mental illness and depression. When the chemicals in our mind are not in balance there is nothing anyone can say or do to wack them into place. The unfortunate stigma that goes with mental illness is a real problem. Too often, we have a need to be seen, respected, admired and not fragile, scared or desperate. So yes, we must learn to share our battles; for it is in this sharing that so many can learn that they are not utterly alone in the fight.

    Nice post, Aaron. And yes, let’s be kind to each other and ourselves.

  9. When we experience an event that brings us together we always find the right words. The problem is that we forget those words after some time and therefore some people. It’s easy to speak well, everyone can do it, it is more difficult to demonstrate. A good leader in my opinion, does not only speak or write. He demonstrated and taught by example.

    1. Joanne, I find myself challenged to maintain a high level of awareness after something important has passed. It’s like the memory of a scare dream: I’m wide awake and aware of it immediately, but after time it slowly slips away.

      Great reminder. I need to be better at doing, not just writing/talking/etc.

  10. I didn’t express myself as well as I would have liked about Trey and his connections. Thanks for getting that, Aaron. You have good instincts.

    It is the connections that trouble me – not those friends who were written in his heart. Or vice versa. To have such a long and wide reach and yet be to so alone, so desperate as he was, and so deeply despairing continues to suggest to me a great failure. Perhaps, of social media. Maybe, online culture in general. But whatever went wrong, obviously, something is wrong when you are connected to the world as Trey was and all that so called love doesn’t really count.

    Whatever it is, can we figure it out and fix it?

    That failure doesn’t exclude the issues related to Trey’s mental health. I’m not a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist. I won’t even pretend to know the major disorders defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Was Trey diagnosed by a licensed doctor? Was he prescribed medicine? Did he refuse to take his medication?

    I have no information about this. So it’s not something I can explore.

    On the other hand, I wonder if the crowd has jumped to a diagnosis. Perhaps, you know better, Aaron. I stopped reading the blog posts after three or four. Was Trey on medication? Or off his medication?

    I can only say from my heart that suicide does not unquestionably demonstrate mental disorder. Anyone who yearns to be whole-hearted knows that feeling strongly can be overwhelming, hasty conclusions are jumped to, and decisive action is executed upon for all the right and wrong reasons.

    And there are other things that I’d want to know and consider.

    Suicide is an event horizon that is unmistakably evil. This is not a judgment on Trey. Nor is it an attempt to describe what is happening right now to Trey. I merely want to explore the impact of this suicide that seems to have exploded like an atomic bomb in the world of social media.

    Like any other evil, suicide fascinates us in its terrible ways, it confuses us, and it distresses us with terrible profundities. It inspires disappointment, doubt, division, discord, sadness, etc.

    As such, I am afraid to ignore the subject regardless of the difficulty, pain, or even the menace of a greater evil. Like any other evil, ignored, evil grows, multiplies, and gives heavy, dark fruits. Silence is a fertile ground for the conspiracy of evil. So too indifference and false consciousness.

    1. Trey had sought treatment back in June. However, he was also having marital problems. Lots going on. I have no idea what they all were. No idea about medication, etc. Those were private things we may never know. TMZ isn’t going to investigate it.

      Stan, I appreciate your bravery to get into a topic that is confusing, taboo, and difficult. Suicide is definitely a bad thing for everyone involved.

      If we are to leave no warriors behind, we must understand first.

      Thanks for getting the discussion rolling.

  11. I have been affected by Trey’s death almost as much as that of my grandfather who passed away several months ago after a long and difficult battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

    I guess there were a number of reason why I was so taken aback by this situation.

    We both live in the same (relatively small) city of Greenville, SC – but yet I had only taken time to sit down with him face to face one time since we first met 2 years ago. Shame on me.

    He was a psuedo-mentor to me as I struggled to get a business started and off the ground in a down economy. He always had an encouraging word for me as we communicated with each other through Facebook and Twitter, but I’m not sure I ever REALLY communicated to him how THANKFUL I was for his friendship and advice. Shame on me.

    (I talk about that at some length in my memorial blog post – out of respect I won’t post the link here although I’m sure Aaron has seen it and is welcome to post if he so chooses, and you are all smart people, and I’m easy to find in various venues).

    Even if he was under the care of a professional, no one will ever know all of the demons he was fighting. I can tell you from my own life, I’ve gone through things that I’d never wish on my worst enemy. On numerous occasions it would have been far easier for me to say “To Hell With It.” Fortunately there was someone in my life that was close enough to me to pick up on the signals and reach out a hand. Apparently Trey didn’t have that. Shame on me. Shame on us.

  12. A genuine show of support from whatever community we belong to whether IRL or online is a true trait of a caring community. We need to stop and look around at the people who are in our various communities and make sure they know how much they mean to us and that we are sincerely there for them. This terrible tragedy absolutely reminds us of the need to reach out to our loved ones…family and friends. Thanks for a heartfelt post Aaron!

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