This is Lyra McKee, who was shot and killed while trying to do her job on the anniversary of Northern Ireland’s Good Friday agreement.
She’s a reporter.
She went to work in Londonderry in Northern Ireland Thursday because, like many in her profession, she believed that you have an interest in being informed.
She was covering the rioting there and standing near some police when a bullet, apparently intended for the police, struck her instead.
Her last piece, published Sunday in the Belfast Telegraph reflected on the fact more people are dying by suicide in relative peace than during the violence, what were called “The Troubles.”
“It’s the most tragic of ironies that 20 years of peace could rob us of more lives than 30 years of war did,” she wrote. She’d lost two friends to suicide.
In the months since their deaths, I have felt like grief is eating me from the inside out. I am wracked with guilt.
I’ve spent so much time talking about mental health and encouraging others to talk about theirs yet I didn’t realise just how much my own friends were suffering.
Suicide is a thief. It will rob you of the opportunity to see the day when things start to get better, before slowly torturing the loved ones you’ve left behind. People tell me not to blame myself for my friends’ deaths but I do.
Not a week goes by when I don’t think of all the missed chances, times when I could have talked them out of it, if only I’d realised what thoughts were in their heads.
A lot of journalists talk about having tough skin, but you can’t write like that, you can’t really be a good journalist, unless you feel humanity deeply and painfully.
In November 2017, she gave a TED talk about a trip to the United States to learn about American values.
That’s when 49 people were slaughtered at a gay night club in Orlando, Fla. When she visited a mosque in Orlando in the aftermath, she met a man who said his best friend died by suicide because he was gay.
“When I left religious education when I was 14, I swore I was done with religion and I was never going back to it, and I was never going to have another conversation if I could help it with a person of faith again,” she said. But when she talked to a Muslim man about a gay friend, “I realized I couldn’t run away from religion anymore.”
You might need a Kleenex for this.
Five years ago, she wrote a letter to her 14-year-old self.
In a year’s time, you’re going to join a scheme that trains people your age to be journalists. I know the careers teacher suggested that as an option and you said no, because it sounded boring and all you wanted to do was write, but go with it.
For the first time in your life, you will feel like you’re good at something useful. You’ll have found your calling. You’ll meet amazing people.
And when the bad times come again – FYI, your first girlfriend is not “the one” and you will screw up that history exam – it will be journalism that helps you soldier on.
Her final article on Sunday ended with a plea to LGBT youth.
“Keep going, we say, because one day you’ll wake up and be glad that you lived.”
“So please, I beg you — live,” she wrote.
She was 29 years old when she died.
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