15-year-old Christian Adamek, a popular student at Sparkman High School in Harvest, Alabama, hanged himself Oct. 2 and died from his injuries two days later. His death came just a week after he was arrested for streaking across the Sparkman High football field during a Sept. 27 football game.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, many in the community are wondering what prompted Adamek's death and some are blaming the local media coverage of the streaking. The day before his suicide, Sparkman High principal Michael Campbell told WHNT (who have now memory-holed their coverage) that the streaking incident was serious: “There’s the legal complications. Public lewdness and court consequences outside of school with the legal system, as well as the school consequences that the school system has set up.”
WHNT also aired this news story (deleted from the WHNT website, but uploaded to YouTube by user xrayultra) in which the principal discusses the student’s potential punishment at length. The news story is scary enough for an adult facing punishment, so it's not hard to imagine how a frightened, embarrassed teenager might feel when seeing it:
After his death, his sister admitted Adamek was facing expulsion from the school for streaking. And other reports point out that in Alabama, indecent exposure charges are tied to Alabama’s sex offender laws. While the chances of Adamek being charged with two misdemeanors and placed on the sex offender registry were quite low, as Tim Cushing reminds us, “the reality of the situation isn't immediately apparent to those trapped inside, not while the machinery is still in motion.”
At Wednesday’s memorial service for Adamek, his Boy Scout master remembered him as someone who “always brightened the room.” And his mother Angela spoke to his friends in attendance, reminding them that it’s still ok to have a little fun:
“Remember to smile, don’t be afraid to do something goofy and remember the consequences of those actions, ask for help when you need it, ask for help if you think your friends need it if you don’t know what to do, be quirky, be happy, be smart.”