On Sunday night, 21-year-old Max Gilderbloom drove his car to the Atherton High School parking lot and shot himself.
His suicide was tragic for his family and friends. I only met Max twice, not enough to really know much about him, but since his death I’ve learned a great deal. His dad, U of L professor John Gilderbloom, is a close friend. Max seemed like a normal college student, but he was troubled with a mental illness that kept him from focusing on school or work.
At Atherton High School, he was Homecoming King, an honors student, voted Most Likely to Succeed by his classmates. He volunteered at the Wayside Christian Mission, and loved biking, water skiing, snowboarding, martial arts and playing the piano.
But in talking with his father, I knew that Max struggled in many ways. John was concerned about Max’s mental illness and his decision to be part of what he called a “religious cult” that encouraged his use of hallucinogenic drugs.
John told me that he’d recently discussed suicide with Max, and was assured that Max wouldn’t take his own life. No one in the family knows where or how Max obtained a gun. He left a note, to his mother, in which he wrote it was time to move on.
Today, there’s a celebration of his life at O’Shea’s on Baxter Avenue at 10 a.m.