SECOND LIFE—For the past several weeks, citizens in the virtual world have mourned the loss of one of their closest and dearest friends. A few weeks ago, Matt Wilkins (cosmoboy72), longtime member of the Second Life community, deactivated his account after what many describe as a tragic and preventable addiction to “The Real World.”

One of Wilkins’ oldest friends, tiger_104, explained “I’ve heard stories about people getting caught up in the Real World, but I never thought it could happen to someone this close to me, you know?” tiger_104 continued, “I guess I should’ve seen it coming. All the warning signs were there. He started neglecting his second family and second friends, and selling all of his stuff on the Second Life marketplace. He even jokingly hinted that he may ‘disconnect.'”

Despite the many warning signs, Wilkins’ death shocked the Second Life community. “I was going to leave him a message to see where he was disappearing to when I got the notice,” said cosmogirl96. “I had just clicked ‘Send’ when I saw the message. It was tragic. I’ll never forget what it said. ‘ERROR 527: The user you are attempting to contact has deactivated his account. He is no longer on the Second Life network. We are sorry for your loss.’”

Error 527, also known as the Second Suicide Notification (SSN) hadn’t been seen since the collapse of the Linden Dollar (L$) in 2007, after which dozens of Second Life avatars were seen jumping off of buildings before they disconnected, never to be seen again.

Immediately following the discovery of Wilkins’ death, the Second Life community came together to celebrate the man they once knew and loved. Now, weeks later, they are starting to move on with their second lives. “At first I was upset,” remarked tiger_104. “But now—I think I’m okay. After all, he’s in a better place now—he’s in the Real World, or, as we like to call it, Second Heaven.”

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