After nearly a decade of battling depression, a beloved Utah-based LGBT activist has committed suicide.
Lincoln Parkin, a 22-year-old youth advocate and environmentalist, was found dead on Wednesday, April 6. Medical examiners are still working to figure out the exact cause of death, but Parkin's father Brent believes his son's death was self-inflicted.
“I think he got out of balance physically, spiritually, emotionally and socially,” Brent Parkin said in a statement.
“He got pretty extreme with his diet, he got to the point where he felt like God wasn’t there for him, and he isolated himself.”
Lincoln Parkin, who was living in Seattle at the time of his death, was known in many circles for his passion, generosity and unrelenting kindness, which many saw through his work advocating for LGBT youth and animal rights. In his life, he was awarded a number of scholarships for his volunteer work as well as for his musical talent.
While a student at Weber High School, Parkin reinstated the school's Gay Straight Alliance. The faculty adviser for the group, Julie Van Orden, attributes the organization's continued success to the example Parkin set forth when he was still a student at the school.
“It’s this big vibrant group now,” Van Orden said. “And that’s in large part due to what Lincoln did while he was there.”
"He was just a very big-hearted kid," she continued. "I’m a better person for having known Lincoln. He wanted to change the world, and I think he did just that."
Upon receiving a scholarship from the ACLU of Utah's Youth Activist Scholarship Program, Parkin was quoted as saying, “In the future, I envision a world where sexual orientation won’t define a person, but refine them. Where differences will be celebrated, not mutilated.”
He brought this forward-thinking energy with him to the OUTreach Resource Centers of Ogden, where he met and eventually worked closely with the organization's executive director, Marian Edmonds-Allen.
"[He was] not shy about helping and publicly advocating for those who were lonely and isolated," she said in a statement reflecting on his death.
"He lived everything he cared about. He lived his convictions. This is a devastating loss. There’s a lot of us shedding a lot of tears."
Parkin's father admits that, though he and the rest of the family were accepting of Lincoln when he came out at 15, Lincoln still felt a tremendous amount of stress and pressure in regards to his sexuality.
"He was so conflicted with that because it was contrary to our religion and to things he thought were true for years. He knew he was gay at 12, but struggled in silence for years."
"My wife and I told him we loved him whether he was gay or straight. He’s our son, and if he’s gay, he’s our son even more. Him being gay was his chemistry, and we embraced it. Our family was behind him 100 percent."
Brent urges all who are suffering from depression to treat it like the disease that it is and to get the help that they need. He hopes, too, that Lincoln's legacy will inspire others to live openly and honestly with kindness and conviction, just like his son did.
Our thoughts are with the Parkin family. To Lincoln, we extend our deepest gratitude for the important work you did to better our community.
If you are a Utah resident struggling with suicidal thoughts, please visit Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition.
If you are a teen or young adult suffering from suicidal thoughts, you can text ‘start’ to 741741 or visit Crisis Text Line.
For more resources on suicide prevention for LGBT youth, go to The Trevor Project.