Thinking Out Loud

August 4, 2014

Remembering Braxton Caner

Braxton CanerThe death of Braxton Caner, the 15-year old son of Baptist writer Ergun Caner has haunted me all weekend. I’ve followed various internet rabbit trails trying to extract some meaning from his sudden, untimely death, apparently at his own hand. Why?

From the obituary:

…Braxton loved three things: God, his family and sports. When he got to Texas, he added four things to that list: Football, his friends, weight training, and Hannah Spencer. Braxton only loved one girl in his whole life — He and Hannah were inseparable for these last two years, and reflected a godly love far beyond their respective ages… Before he died, Braxton began researching collegiate programs in sports fitness and kinesiology, and wanted to become a sports trainer. Braxton only lived 15 years and four months, but he did more in his brief life than many people do in a lifetime. He traveled with his parents, visiting 41 states. He attended over fifty weeks of church camp in his life, on every major ocean. He learned to surf in Hawaii, escaped a moose in Alaska, got chased out of Canada, helicoptered over the Grand Canyon, and ducked out of the way of a lion in the Serengeti. He got to help do a chapel for his beloved New England Patriots and learned to drive his F150 pickup truck on dirt roads of Texas. Braxton’s faith in Christ was also reflected in his life: He was the best big brother to Drake, led his cousin to Jesus shortly after his own salvation, and was a positive role in the lives of many others. He traveled around the world on eight mission trips, including Kenya twice, Tanzania, Israel, Mexico, the Bahamas, England and Wales…

While there has been speculation as to what propelled Braxton to this action, I think this is one of the news stories that will only become clearer with time. His father is not without controversy, and some have noted* that Braxton was being bullied on his Twitter account by enemies of Ergun Caner. He left no note…

I leave the comment section open to anyone else who has followed this story and wishes to add their insights; please be respectful… 

*UpdateTuesday, August 5th, 10:30 PM EST: The investigative website The Wartburg Watch thoroughly chronicles the role that certain people would appear to have played in Braxton’s sudden death. Writer Darlene Parsons begins, “This is one of the hardest posts I have ever written;” and many gut-wrenching paragraphs later, concludes, “Things have gone way too far.” To read that article click here.

News search results from last week:

Evangelicals Grieve as Braxton Caner, 15-YO Son of Christian

Christian PostJul 30, 2014


  1. I concur. I have been haunted by this young mans death as well. I have a young child myself and I can’t for the life of me imagine something like this.

    I don’;t know much about teen suicide, except that most times, it makes little sense to those left behind. A great looking kid, a great girlfriend, a great family, a believer in Christ. It’s all just hard to fathom.

    Not sure if this is wrong or not, but I admit, I’ve perused his twitter looking for clues into his mindset. He had a few “deep thought” tweets that could mean more and for some reason he was on a quest to not sleep for 40 hours, which is puzzling. The exchange with this fathers critics didn’t seem to affect him much. He actually handled it quite well and made them look somewhat foolish. But, other than that, his twitter seemed normal, I think. And his last tweet was “So Happy.” My wife is a nurse and she said that maybe he was “happy” because he had made the decision to end it and that brought him happiness from whatever pain he had.and wanted to escape. I don’t know. It’s sad beyond belief.

    I hope his family find answers that could give them some kind of understanding.


    Comment by John — August 4, 2014 @ 2:09 pm

    • Interesting comment inasmuch as I followed the same trail — and various branches of it — and also noticed the role of sleep deprivation.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — August 4, 2014 @ 2:15 pm

    • I thought he was a Christian preacher? Why would his wife say he would be happy? People who commit suicide burn in hell. The lying pastor’s son couldn’t be saved by Christ. Hillarious.

      Comment by Mike man — January 23, 2017 @ 5:02 pm

  2. I’ve been troubled after reading the pastor’s comments on Twitter to this young man. It could have had a lot to do with what happened, or little, but this pastor will never know. He should have had the wisdom to not engage a fifteen year old publicly. I can’t stand the lack of grace shown, and he just kept boring down harder, even justifying, when challenged, a public confrontation with a 15 year old because the teen had made comments on the teen’s own public twitter account. How did a supposedly mature Christian leader lose enough perspective to think this was all okay? His apology was pretty half hearted, and at the end challenged anyone who took issue with it.

    Comment by Ann — August 5, 2014 @ 1:07 pm

  3. So if you talk to someone over social media, and nearly a month later they kill themselves, you’re now responsible?

    Comment by M B — August 8, 2014 @ 3:09 pm

    • You’re committing the logical fallacy known as “arguing from the particular to the general.”
      And it was far more than “talk.”

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — August 8, 2014 @ 3:38 pm

  4. Thanks for your post. I am a researcher working on a study about cyberbullying and suicide, and this case really threw me. I wonder about the sleep deprivation too, or whether there could have been a breakup?

    Comment by Tanya — January 8, 2015 @ 11:42 am

    • It obviously resonated with a lot of people, as it turns out to be this blog’s most-visited article of 2014. I’m sure there’s a lot more material on this online. The allegation here is that the adult in question — a pastor, no less — was really using Braxton as part of a larger attack on Braxton’s father’s ministry. I’m sure there were other factors. Honestly, I haven’t done a lot of follow-up on this story, but if you end up using it in part of work, I’d love to see what you find out.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — January 8, 2015 @ 11:58 am

  5. Funny, Ergun Caner said the words, on many occasions “Son, hope you die, Insh a Allah. That’s what happens. You continuously asked God for your son to die. Hey Ergun, the fake ex-muslim, you use lies to make people hate another faith, that very well may have been the cause of someone hurting a muslim. Your son perished for your BS to become rich and famous. You should be ashamed.

    Comment by Mike man — January 23, 2017 @ 5:00 pm

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