Fact Check-Italian-Ethiopian footballer did not leave a suicide note citing racism; social media users are quoting a years-old letter sent to friends | #socialmedia


An unsubstantiated narrative relating to an Italian footballer’s suicide has been shared on social media following his death. However, the man’s adoptive father has since said there is no truth to the claims and has requested people avoid speculation.

Seid Visin, a 20-year-old Italian originally from Ethiopia who played soccer for a club called Atletico Vitalica, took his own life in early June, according to Italian media (bit.ly/2RzWZvg and bit.ly/3g5cDs5). Afterr his death, thousands of social media users led each other to believe he had left a note that explained his actions were a result of racial abuse.

“Former AC Milan youth player Seid Visin sadly took his own life due to racist abuse,” said one Facebook post, which was reshared more than 1,000 times. “He left a heart-breaking [sic] suicidal note speaking on life as an immigrant.” (here , here , here and here).

The player’s adoptive father Walter has since spoken publicly to confirm his son did not leave a note – and to ask people to cease speculating on the reasons for his death.

“We found our son hanged and no messages near his body. No last letter,” he told La Stampa, adding that it was unfair for his grief to be “exploited by Italian politics” (bit.ly/2TP7Cer).

He explained to the newspaper – and later in a Facebook post – that the note social media users were referring to was a letter his son had sent his friends years earlier (here). It was written at the height of the European migration crisis, when thousands of people made perilous journeys from Africa and the Middle East in search of a new life in Europe.

“At that time, there was the blockade by the Italian government of immigrants in the middle of the sea,” the player’s adoptive father said. “This caused suffering in all of us.”

In an additional interview with ANSA news agency, he said the letter had “no connection” to his son’s death, saying there had been “enough speculation” (bit.ly/34YDe3n).

“My son did not kill himself because he was a victim of racism. He has always been loved and well-liked, this morning the church for his funeral was packed with young people and families […]

“I don’t want to talk about my son’s personal issues. I’m just saying he’s a wonderful man.”

He added on Facebook: “The reason for [Seid’s] tragic act remains incomprehensible to us too, that’s why we ask for a privacy in such a difficult time.”

The letter, which was read aloud at the funeral and details experiences of racism in Italy and thoughts on the migration crisis, can be read bit.ly/34YDe3n.

VERDICT

Missing context. Seid Visin did not leave a suicide note. His father said the letter being referenced on social media dates back several years and has nothing to do with his son’s death. Walter Visin says his son’s motives are “incomprehensible” and has asked people to avoid speculation.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .





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