In this instance, there were many factors involved beneath the surface of things. This is often the case and the reason why it is unwise for anyone to judge another because they are not walking in that person’s shoes. So in this case, the young artist-to-be whose older companion failed to act, even though it seemed within that individual’s capability to save the drowning victim, he could not know all of the factors involved making that older teen freeze up in the moment and only offer vocal encouragement but nothing physical that might put himself at risk. Many people in a particular circumstance of that kind where there is risk to personal welfare will react strongly, deep within their mind because of a karmic trauma, even occurring in other lifetimes, that is so severe it creates an extreme level of inner fear and conflict rendering them helpless to act.
Until you have experienced such a circumstance, you can’t know how impossible it might be for someone to take action because they are under duress that is not observable to an outside party. Everyone has their limit in what they can tolerate. If being frozen in fear prevents them from acting in a way that another might take care of by being unhindered, and find readily doable to be a hero and save the day, will indeed be judged by the Law of Karma but take that great inner fear into account as a mitigating factor. This does not let the person off the hook. After all, they will still be greatly hindered and at risk of failing a test of courage in the future again if unlucky enough to face a similar circumstance, if not in the current life, in a future life.
This is the curse of trauma, that it will carry forward and is relentless through the Law of Karma in returning again and again to a person to challenge them until they find a way to heal and overcome their prior difficulties. So that individual, seeming to get off easy because they took no personal risk to save someone drowning, will indeed suffer and suffer greatly, and it was not the place of that child witness who, as an artist, took it upon himself to be a judge and jury and humiliate that teen who could not act and expose him to public shaming. That was an act of cruelty and will, in effect, transfer an equal transgression to him in taking the life of another because it caused that former teen to hang himself—that death is now on the shoulders of the artist making him feel he would rather be dead than continue to live with the memory of all that has happened.
Keep in mind that prior to being exposed in public for his childhood failure to rescue someone and then hanging himself, his life was cursed because that event was unforgettable for him, and had countless nightmares reliving the experience and feeling inner shame and humiliation at his helplessness in the circumstance. To have that exposed in public with him in the spotlight compounded a growing wound that was deepening and widening all life long through self-inflicted judgment. So that act of a kind of revenge by the artist was a much more severe and harsh punishment than he himself realized. In wanting to expiate his own inner guilt, as he was young and helpless himself in being unable to prevent the drowning, he caused another death and will have that as a karmic burden going forward until he finds a way to rebalance and repay the additional tragedy he caused.