Trey Pennington: Reaching Out in the Darkness

Trey Pennington, who I met via Twitter a year ago and in real life at the Monitoring Social Media conference in New York a few months later, taught me the value of stories for marketing and social media. The power of stories goes beyond marketing and social media interactions. It’s at the core of how we communicate as people in a human voice to provide insights and lessons about the world. Tragically, Trey’s own story came to an end yesterday when he took his life.

Trey described himself as a marketing consultant who traveled around the world teaching others how to use emerging technology to make meaningful connections with real people. With his easy-going South Carolinian accent, he won many friends and followers. View any of the social media platforms where Trey was active and you’ll see that Trey practiced what he preached. He was well connected and his pages are filled with wishes from family, friends and followers.

It’s hard to believe that a man whose life was built on the principle of sharing as a teacher and a social media master couldn’t share the pain that he apparently was feeling. Despite social media’s core principles of transparency, social media participants can be reticent to let others know about their pain and troubles, especially in light of the Internet’s permanent memory.

As we ponder his loss, we, his family, friends and social media colleagues, must consider how we can change our share-all transparency on social media platforms to provide the means to enable those in pain or trouble to reach out for help and understanding.

The truth is that suicide is the silent “S” where those suffering can’t bring themselves to ask for help while they hide their symptoms and personal pain. Often, it’s difficult to tell there’s a problem until someone dies and sometimes even not then. Let’s use this opportunity to reach out our digital hands, to help those who are in need, to help light up their darkness.

My heart goes out to Trey’s family at this sad and painful time. Nothing we can write or say can replace his generous being nor can we fill the hole his passing has left.

Heidi Cohen

For those looking for suicide support and information, please reach out to

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