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 Ryan Michael Vego

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Ryan Michael Vego

Birth
Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, USA
Death
20 Mar 2000 (aged 32)
Seattle, King County, Washington, USA
Burial
Burial Details Unknown
Memorial ID
219038028 View Source

Seattle Times, Local News: Sunday, April 02, 2000; After suicide, family is left to hold dear the son, friend and lover; Nicole Brodeur / Times Staff Columnist.

Not long ago, I walked to the bluffs at Discovery Park, searching for clues in the steps of a man who killed himself there just days before.

I stood at the edge of the cliffs, looked out, breathed in and heard nothing. Just the wind.

So I wrote that when life gets hard, we need to hunt for things that sustain us.

Days later, my words came back to me in a furious tsunami of grief. They had forced the man's suicide out of a large but private circle of family and friends, and into the public light.

And while I had never mentioned the man's name, his family now wants everyone to know it.
Ryan.

His name was Ryan Vego. He was beautiful, just 32, and he hanged himself off a cliff overlooking Puget Sound.

"This is not the right way to end your life," said his mother, Colleen Ryan Prosser. "But it is his story."

It is told with no shame. No anger. No hiding. "Just sadness," one relative told me.
"Grief," said another.

"A great big hole in our lives," said one more.

More than anything, said one relative, "There is a desire to put a face and a family and a lover to this person."

Ryan Vego was an artist, a musician, a lover, a son, and a brother. He was a victim of Crohn's disease. A depressed soul. And a binge drinker who never let anyone see him at his worst.

"He was a precious child surrounded by family and love," said Colleen Prosser, who lives in Magnolia with her third husband, Rick.

Ryan wrote beautiful cards and lyrics. His father, Michael Vego of Oregon, called him "erudite." His humor was dry, his heart was big, his words were few.

His memorial service was standing-room-only at the Chapel of St. Ignatius at Seattle University. People read from the Scriptures and Ryan's own writings, and were comforted, or crushed, by the Cat Stevens song, "Oh, Very Young" (". . . What will you leave us this time? You're only dancing on this earth for a short while.")

Stepfather Larry Sieber, who works for a local phone company, once did a job at Ryan's old high school, Highline in Burien. One of the teachers recognized his name and linked it back to the surname Ryan used then.

For 20 minutes, the teacher talked about Ryan's gifts. He was insightful and introspective. He was good-looking, and, in his junior year, found himself dating the most popular senior girl.

The girl, now the mother of four, flew out for his funeral last weekend.
Even though he played in bands, wrote poetry and music, and made art, Ryan shied from adulation.

"He liked to fly under the radar," Larry Sieber said.
So it was when Ryan was drinking. He would be dry for four months, then disappear on a private binge. He'd get back on track, back to work, and all would be forgiven. Then it would happen again, spurred by his depression or the pain of Crohn's disease, a chronic intestinal disorder.

He wrote a song about his struggle: "This little bed is too small for how tired I am."
It proved an endless cycle. The painkillers he was taking for his stomach pain counteracted his antidepressants, so he drank. Then he would binge, feel like he had disappointed himself and others, and become depressed.

Earlier this year, Ryan spent almost a month in an alcohol-treatment center in Kirkland.
"We really thought he got it this time," said his stepfather, Rick Prosser.

Ryan stayed at the Prossers' Magnolia home while they were on vacation in late February, and then moved into a house in Ballard with three other sober men.

On Thursday, March 16, Ryan slipped for the last time.

His girlfriend, Heather Dwyer, met him at his job at a Seattle art dealer. She noticed Ryan had been drinking "a little."

They talked of seeing "Boys Don't Cry," but thought it might be too heavy, so they sat outside and talked about where they would like to live some day: Ireland in the summer, Spain in the winter.

Later that evening, Ryan called a friend. "If you don't pick me up, I'm going to kill myself," he warned. His friend let him stay the night.

On Friday morning, March 17, as his friend drove him to work, Ryan popped open a beer. The friend took it away. When he got to work, Ryan was suspended from his job. They loved him, they said, but he needed to straighten out.

Soon after, Heather Dwyer got on a Metro bus, headed for her own job. Ryan was sitting in the back.

"What are you doing here?" he asked.

"What are you doing here?" she asked, taking the seat beside him. Seeing he was distraught, she said, "I'm going to ride with you until you decide to get off."

They talked, Ryan cried, and Heather held him. At one point he asked if the bus stopped in Magnolia, and when she said yes, he stood to get off.

"Always remember that I love you more than anything," he said.

At 6:18 p.m. Friday, someone - presumably Ryan - used his ATM card at the Magnolia Thriftway.

On Saturday, March 18, his family distributed fliers bearing a photo of Ryan looking dazed and confused - as they imagined he looked right then. They called police to report him missing.

Michael Vego drove up from Oregon with a pair of binoculars and searched Discovery Park for his son.

Rick Prosser thought his stepson would be "under a bush, drinking. Ryan never wanted to bother people in any way."

Heather Dwyer and Ryan's sister, Keva Sieber, thought he might be on a bus to Boston.

On Tuesday, March 21, Ryan's body was found in a wooded spot off the park's beach trail. The medical examiner believes he died the day before - three days after he disappeared.

The family thinks he died Friday night. Ryan hated the cold.

In the backpack found with his body, there were family photos and two letters he had carried to his death.

One was written to Ryan by his sister, Keva. Ryan had visited her in Boston last fall, and before he left for the airport, she dashed off a letter telling him how much she loved him.

The other letter Ryan carried was from him to his family, for when he was found.

"What the heck, it's St. Patrick's Day," it began. He told Heather he loved her, and urged his mother not to cry: "I am in a better place."

They believe that, you know. "He was so tired," said Heather. "He was trying to be so strong and go to work with this stabbing pain in his stomach."

When he binged, he apologized. And when he apologized, he meant it. "He tried harder than anyone I ever met," she said. "I don't know how he lasted as long as he did."

Said Larry Sieber: "Ryan's concern was for other people. Suicide may be selfish, but this was the inverse."

Joel Putnam, a friend for more than 10 years, thinks that Ryan didn't know what else to do when he took his life.

"But I like to think there was one thing that he didn't try," Putnam said.

Accepting all the love he was offered, Putnam said, might have helped Ryan.

"We all wish this didn't happen," Putnam said. "But there is some relief that he's OK now."

I called Ilene Schwartz, a Bellevue psychotherapist, and told her about sitting in the Prossers' home, looking around the room and not finding the anger I expected.

"Sometimes there is relief and a sense of peace after a suicide," she said. And the family's willingness to talk about it is healthy.

"Instead of hiding, they are healing," Schwartz said.

She ventured that Ryan must have been in terrible pain, physically and emotionally. And while his family wanted to help him, they may have felt that there was nothing more they could do beyond doctors, open doors and 2 a.m. phone calls.

So what is the lesson here? What sustains us beside the sound of Ryan's voice on his CD, his artwork on the walls, the photos and cards that his mother keeps stacked nearby, ammunition against the sorrow that she may fight forever?

Putnam lets out a sigh and hopes what he says doesn't sound like a cliche.
"You have to love people while they're here," he says.

Colleen Ryan Prosser believes her son is still here.

The other day, in the midst of her grief, she stepped out on the back porch, turned her face up to the new spring warmth and suddenly felt a light mist falling from the sky.

"He was right there," she said, smiling. "I felt like he was comforting me. I am going to miss him horribly."

And if he were right here now?

"I would say - and I said this to Ryan millions of times - suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. It's gonna get better, just hang on. That's what I would say."

(Nicole Brodeur's phone number is 206-464-2334. Her e-mail address is: [email protected]

She's sorry for the pain, but glad for the lesson.)

Seattle Times, Local News: Sunday, April 02, 2000; After suicide, family is left to hold dear the son, friend and lover; Nicole Brodeur / Times Staff Columnist.

Not long ago, I walked to the bluffs at Discovery Park, searching for clues in the steps of a man who killed himself there just days before.

I stood at the edge of the cliffs, looked out, breathed in and heard nothing. Just the wind.

So I wrote that when life gets hard, we need to hunt for things that sustain us.

Days later, my words came back to me in a furious tsunami of grief. They had forced the man's suicide out of a large but private circle of family and friends, and into the public light.

And while I had never mentioned the man's name, his family now wants everyone to know it.
Ryan.

His name was Ryan Vego. He was beautiful, just 32, and he hanged himself off a cliff overlooking Puget Sound.

"This is not the right way to end your life," said his mother, Colleen Ryan Prosser. "But it is his story."

It is told with no shame. No anger. No hiding. "Just sadness," one relative told me.
"Grief," said another.

"A great big hole in our lives," said one more.

More than anything, said one relative, "There is a desire to put a face and a family and a lover to this person."

Ryan Vego was an artist, a musician, a lover, a son, and a brother. He was a victim of Crohn's disease. A depressed soul. And a binge drinker who never let anyone see him at his worst.

"He was a precious child surrounded by family and love," said Colleen Prosser, who lives in Magnolia with her third husband, Rick.

Ryan wrote beautiful cards and lyrics. His father, Michael Vego of Oregon, called him "erudite." His humor was dry, his heart was big, his words were few.

His memorial service was standing-room-only at the Chapel of St. Ignatius at Seattle University. People read from the Scriptures and Ryan's own writings, and were comforted, or crushed, by the Cat Stevens song, "Oh, Very Young" (". . . What will you leave us this time? You're only dancing on this earth for a short while.")

Stepfather Larry Sieber, who works for a local phone company, once did a job at Ryan's old high school, Highline in Burien. One of the teachers recognized his name and linked it back to the surname Ryan used then.

For 20 minutes, the teacher talked about Ryan's gifts. He was insightful and introspective. He was good-looking, and, in his junior year, found himself dating the most popular senior girl.

The girl, now the mother of four, flew out for his funeral last weekend.
Even though he played in bands, wrote poetry and music, and made art, Ryan shied from adulation.

"He liked to fly under the radar," Larry Sieber said.
So it was when Ryan was drinking. He would be dry for four months, then disappear on a private binge. He'd get back on track, back to work, and all would be forgiven. Then it would happen again, spurred by his depression or the pain of Crohn's disease, a chronic intestinal disorder.

He wrote a song about his struggle: "This little bed is too small for how tired I am."
It proved an endless cycle. The painkillers he was taking for his stomach pain counteracted his antidepressants, so he drank. Then he would binge, feel like he had disappointed himself and others, and become depressed.

Earlier this year, Ryan spent almost a month in an alcohol-treatment center in Kirkland.
"We really thought he got it this time," said his stepfather, Rick Prosser.

Ryan stayed at the Prossers' Magnolia home while they were on vacation in late February, and then moved into a house in Ballard with three other sober men.

On Thursday, March 16, Ryan slipped for the last time.

His girlfriend, Heather Dwyer, met him at his job at a Seattle art dealer. She noticed Ryan had been drinking "a little."

They talked of seeing "Boys Don't Cry," but thought it might be too heavy, so they sat outside and talked about where they would like to live some day: Ireland in the summer, Spain in the winter.

Later that evening, Ryan called a friend. "If you don't pick me up, I'm going to kill myself," he warned. His friend let him stay the night.

On Friday morning, March 17, as his friend drove him to work, Ryan popped open a beer. The friend took it away. When he got to work, Ryan was suspended from his job. They loved him, they said, but he needed to straighten out.

Soon after, Heather Dwyer got on a Metro bus, headed for her own job. Ryan was sitting in the back.

"What are you doing here?" he asked.

"What are you doing here?" she asked, taking the seat beside him. Seeing he was distraught, she said, "I'm going to ride with you until you decide to get off."

They talked, Ryan cried, and Heather held him. At one point he asked if the bus stopped in Magnolia, and when she said yes, he stood to get off.

"Always remember that I love you more than anything," he said.

At 6:18 p.m. Friday, someone - presumably Ryan - used his ATM card at the Magnolia Thriftway.

On Saturday, March 18, his family distributed fliers bearing a photo of Ryan looking dazed and confused - as they imagined he looked right then. They called police to report him missing.

Michael Vego drove up from Oregon with a pair of binoculars and searched Discovery Park for his son.

Rick Prosser thought his stepson would be "under a bush, drinking. Ryan never wanted to bother people in any way."

Heather Dwyer and Ryan's sister, Keva Sieber, thought he might be on a bus to Boston.

On Tuesday, March 21, Ryan's body was found in a wooded spot off the park's beach trail. The medical examiner believes he died the day before - three days after he disappeared.

The family thinks he died Friday night. Ryan hated the cold.

In the backpack found with his body, there were family photos and two letters he had carried to his death.

One was written to Ryan by his sister, Keva. Ryan had visited her in Boston last fall, and before he left for the airport, she dashed off a letter telling him how much she loved him.

The other letter Ryan carried was from him to his family, for when he was found.

"What the heck, it's St. Patrick's Day," it began. He told Heather he loved her, and urged his mother not to cry: "I am in a better place."

They believe that, you know. "He was so tired," said Heather. "He was trying to be so strong and go to work with this stabbing pain in his stomach."

When he binged, he apologized. And when he apologized, he meant it. "He tried harder than anyone I ever met," she said. "I don't know how he lasted as long as he did."

Said Larry Sieber: "Ryan's concern was for other people. Suicide may be selfish, but this was the inverse."

Joel Putnam, a friend for more than 10 years, thinks that Ryan didn't know what else to do when he took his life.

"But I like to think there was one thing that he didn't try," Putnam said.

Accepting all the love he was offered, Putnam said, might have helped Ryan.

"We all wish this didn't happen," Putnam said. "But there is some relief that he's OK now."

I called Ilene Schwartz, a Bellevue psychotherapist, and told her about sitting in the Prossers' home, looking around the room and not finding the anger I expected.

"Sometimes there is relief and a sense of peace after a suicide," she said. And the family's willingness to talk about it is healthy.

"Instead of hiding, they are healing," Schwartz said.

She ventured that Ryan must have been in terrible pain, physically and emotionally. And while his family wanted to help him, they may have felt that there was nothing more they could do beyond doctors, open doors and 2 a.m. phone calls.

So what is the lesson here? What sustains us beside the sound of Ryan's voice on his CD, his artwork on the walls, the photos and cards that his mother keeps stacked nearby, ammunition against the sorrow that she may fight forever?

Putnam lets out a sigh and hopes what he says doesn't sound like a cliche.
"You have to love people while they're here," he says.

Colleen Ryan Prosser believes her son is still here.

The other day, in the midst of her grief, she stepped out on the back porch, turned her face up to the new spring warmth and suddenly felt a light mist falling from the sky.

"He was right there," she said, smiling. "I felt like he was comforting me. I am going to miss him horribly."

And if he were right here now?

"I would say - and I said this to Ryan millions of times - suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. It's gonna get better, just hang on. That's what I would say."

(Nicole Brodeur's phone number is 206-464-2334. Her e-mail address is: [email protected]

She's sorry for the pain, but glad for the lesson.)

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