Law Professor And Leading Gay Rights Advocate Dies In Apparent Suicide

It is with great sadness that I report the death of Chapman Law Professor Mary Katherine Baird Darmer, 47, a leading proponent for protections of gay and lesbian citizens. Darmer died in a six-story fall from a parking garage that was believed to be a suicide. She leaves a husband and at least one child.

Darmer was a founding member of the Orange County Equality Coalition to fight for the rights of gays and lesbians after the passage of Proposition 8. She often gave legal commentary.

Professor Darmer received her A.B. from Princeton University, with high honors, and her Juris Doctor from Columbia University, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar for two years and served as Articles Editor of the Columbia Journal of Environmental Law. She then clerked for the Honorable Kimba M. Wood in the Southern District of New York and the Honorable William H. Timbers on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

She was a clearly talented and caring individual who dedicated her life to the rights of others. I have no idea what drove her to allegedly commit suicide but she leaves behind a remarkable legacy. My condolences to her family, her colleagues, and the Chapman legal community.

Here is Professor Darmer discussing torture:

Source: LA Times

59 thoughts on “Law Professor And Leading Gay Rights Advocate Dies In Apparent Suicide”

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  3. I know very nice and sensitive people who have attempted suicide…what people do not realize is that extreme emotion especially to those who have a history of mental imbalance, such as Bipolar disorder, is simply unbearable to these people. I do not view such suicides as selfish, merely as symptoms of an often deadly disease. Those who are bipolar have an incredibly higher instance of suicidal ideation, and those who actually go through with the act. Either way rest in peace Professor Darmer. You will be missed.

  4. If it was suicide jumping as she did would be a way to (presumably) assure success (re the post about the oman who jumped and broke all her bones but lived).
    (As someone who was not visibly depressed when younger, active, had friends, etc, did everything to ensure people did not suspect my thoughts continually lay with suicide, everyone was very surprised when I made my try. Appearances and life success may not indcate at all what many assume it does.)
    Idealist707, I am so sorry for your loss.
    And very glad you got a good report.

  5. Larry,

    As a nurse, this isn’t an issue that’s foreign to me. Given my experience, the press is often deferential to the wishes of the family when suicide is involved. I’ve seen it over and over again. Perhaps this is the case with the Darmer family, as well.

    The Darmer family is grieving. They should be permitted to have some measure of privacy. IMO.

  6. People. Some one from my office saw her jump! I saw her sitting on the ledge and saw her after she jumped. The media is being secretive for some reason. Her husbands office is down the street from the suicide spot. My gut tells me this was related to mental disorder , marital problems , or drugs, or a mixture of these? I wish her family the best. I hope this turns out to be a learning experience for our community, but more facts are needed and the Oc register just doesn’t seem capable ……

  7. Accutane, a cancer drug that was used to treat acne, probably killed my teen-age nephew

  8. Having experienced many years ago the depression caused by starting with SSRIs, I understand that others might take the wrong next step.
    ( I was not clinically depressed, only obsessed with countering my heart problem with something to reduce eventual tension. Self-precription, ie asking for a specific medicine outside the doctor’s competence area is dumb.)

    I quit SSRI’s, and only returned many years later when supplementary temporary medicine to counter this “beginning treatment” side effect was co-prescribed. Caution: leaving the medication causes similar problems and should be done under medical supervision also.

  9. I have had two of three friends who have taken Chantix to quit smoking relate they had experienced completely uncharacteristic sudden (almost) overwhelming suicidal ideation, a known side effect of that drug. They were able to resist. Some are not. Sudden, impulsive suicide? First thing I would look to is prescription drug intake and balance and change – even if (especially if) it / they were taken exactly as prescribed. So sorry for her loss though and her family. Whatever the cause it’s a loss and so sad. Condolences.

  10. Dredd,
    I finally got your meaning. And will for obvious reasons add, as proof of that, that you were not the only one who did not get the RN call for trolls.
    In fact I wonder if anyone here did. It was the intrusions I called attention to, wasn’t it?

  11. Dredd,

    That’s cool. Left me wondering as usual.

    As always, eager for more of yours. I mean for example, your ecocosmology beats the mormons own planets with spirit babies. Have you thought of starting your own church?
    And that was written only because my love of a jest is greater than my sensible side. Apologies again. (I’m hopelessly impulsive. Smile)

  12. SwarthmoreMom,

    Agree and disagree.

    In disagreement I can believe that even the most wildly successful, daily or at least weekly meet the “so what” reaction from within. It may be the body saying it’s tired, it may be the superego expressing disappointment with not achieving set goals, it may be the realization that our strivings, even for good ends, are an essentially Sisyphus task, or as some say “In a hundred years who will know if it mattered at all what I did”.

    So meeting and surpassing the letdown is nothing new to them.
    The question is what made this letdown stand uncountered and maybe be the cause of this mishap. As yet we can’t know, and the family maybe does not want us to know, or maybe a killer does not want us to know either.

    I don’t want her or others to be victims of the media. Nor even those indirectly implicated. Nor do you. Monday morning quarterbacking others lives is essentially despicable, we are agreed on, I’m sure. Sure, with the realization and assurance that I shouldn’t be speaking in your name.

  13. AN,

    Sorry, being obscure again. (Just to avoid being called down for wordiness, I think).
    What happened was that I was at the hospital yesterday for a routine checkup after cancer treatment. Got told all is OK. And got a reminder that as I would be, in June, passing the two year borderline after end of treatment, that it was very very seldom that cancer returns after two years. So that was my impending 2 year clearance I referred to.

    My wife passed away with her third separate cancer type, thus referral to her not getting her clearance. The irony and bitterness over that cancer strikes down the innocent and the worthy equally often as the ordinary was
    weighing me down yesterday.

    Glad you asked, as putting it all into straight language now has helped lighten my load. But in your nurse wisdom you maybe knew this would happen.

  14. idealist707 1, February 22, 2012 at 4:38 pm


    And Dredd, I do appreciate you and your knowledge, and our sharing like most folks certain idiosyncracies, ie human attributes.

    Just to show my admiration and humility (seriously now) what is meant by
    “apparent suicide”. I don’t get it. ( My clashing with you is my nature, not yours.)

    As for the poor woman, how sad. I was disturbed by the rapid assent to it being suicide. Certain sudden deaths are disturbing that way. ´ Natural death by asthma=murder by caustic soda forced inhalation, for example.
    My comments were apparent … but only I know what really happened.

    It is that American English thingy. Very difficult to tell when someone is celebrating.

    Anyway goood on ya!

  15. Gene H. 1, February 22, 2012 at 3:37 pm


    I don’t think id707 was referring to you as a religious nut but rather the anti-sodomy homophobic ravings of Elisha – to whom I’d like to second the well-wishes anonymously administered above..

    Most of us think you’re a totally different kind of nut, Dredd. 😀 Plus, you very rarely attack. Which is so unlike you. You’ve changed so much since your days in Mega-City One law enforcement.
    It was not an attack, it was a veiled yippee!

  16. idealist707. Every case is different and not knowing this woman I would not care to speculate about her. Sometimes, someone that has met with so much success as she had educationally and career wise falls into thinking, is this all their is? They are essentially empty inside. Sometimes medications are involved. Some anti-depressants produce suicidal thoughts.

  17. idealist,

    I’ll have to ask you to clarify again… I’m a skimmer, at times. I must have missed something, regarding the “2 year clearance”…

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