Romance Novelist Slammed After Allegedly Faking Suicide: ‘I Died Not Physically but Spiritually’
Tennessee-based indie romance novelist Susan Meachen had been presumed dead by her fans for the last three years. But on Jan. 3, the author seemingly resurfaced via Facebook to announce that her death was fake.
"I debated on how to do this a million times and still not sure if it’s right or not. There’s going to be tons of questions and a lot of people leaving the group I’d guess. But my family did what they thought was best for me and I can’t fault them for it. I almost died at my own hand again and they had to go through all that hell again," someone posting under Meachen's name allegedly wrote in the private Facebook group The Ward.
"Returning to The Ward doesn’t mean much but I am in a good place now and I am hoping to write again. Let the fun begin," she allegedly concluded.
Content warning below: suicide
Meachen's "death" was reportedly announced by someone claiming to be the writer's family member back in 2020.
However, according to Yahoo! Life, a spokesperson for the medical examiner's office in Polk County, Tenn., told NBC News they "had no record of anybody by that name being reported dead going back to 2020."
Now, many on the internet are furious about the apparent suicide hoax.
Here's what we know about the controversy...
Why Did Susan Meachen Fake Her Death?
Susan Meachen, 47, was reported dead online in September 2020 by someone claiming to be her daughter, who wrote in The Ward Facebook group that Meachen had died via suicide after experiencing alleged bullying online.
"What followed was rants from said daughter about how horrid the book world had been to Susan and the family wanted nothing to do with the book world from that point on. However, they wanted to honor their mother's memory by publishing the last book she wrote, which they did. Friends, authors, and readers shared the release," author Samantha A. Cole wrote in a Facebook post Jan. 3, explaining what happened at the time Meachen's "death" had been announced.
Allegedly, other authors even put together an anthology dedicated to Meachen.
Was Susan Meachen Still Online After Her 'Suicide' Announcement?
Reportedly, Meachen has been alive and well in the Facebook group the whole time, posting under an alias named "TN Steele."
In a screenshot of a post from November 2022, someone named Connie Ortiz wrote, "I had been considering closing [this group] down but that would not be fair to you. If anyone wants to take over this group please let me know."
"I'll take it. I will overhaul it in hopes that it pleases you and Susan," TN Steele replied to the comment.
Was There Money Involved in the Hoax?
According to NBC News, author T.E. Ridener said there was an auction to raise funds for Meachen's funeral at the time of her "death."
"I saw the auction that was going on to help raise funds for her funeral. Authors are usually asked to donate gift cards, E-books, or swag (bookmarks, postcards, magnets, etc.) to be auctioned off to the highest bidder," Ridener said.
"Several authors got together and published [the anti-bullying anthology], donating proceeds to Susan’s family," Ridener added, while Cole said that many people raised awareness for the "988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline" in Meachen's memory.
"To find out that it was a hoax, two-and-a-half years later, was just a slap in the face to everybody," Cole told NBC News.
It's unclear where the funds for the funeral went.
If you or someone you know needs help, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 800-273-TALK (8255).