Saturday, January 12, 2013

Aaron Swartz, and Suicide Among the Young

Aaron Swartz was little more than a name to me until this morning, when it seemed that everyone in my aggregator was responding to the news that he had committed suicide yesterday, at the age of 26.

I've already conceded that I know exactly nothing (aside from this morning's news) about Aaron's case, but let's generalize for a moment here. First, let's stipulate that not every suicide is a "tragedy" or even a calamaty. Some are the sad and sadly comprehensible response to the burden of living.

But the suicide of one so young and (seemingly) so talented is almost by definition just wretchedly wrong--not "wrong" in the sense of the actor's "fault" but wrong in the sense of "something dreadfully out of kilter in the universe." For more, you must link over and read Cory Doctorow's breathtaking memorial (apparently composed on the instant), and in particular this:
I don't know for sure whether Aaron understood that any of us, any of his friends, would have taken a call from him at any hour of the day or night. I don't know if he understood that wherever he was, there were people who cared about him, who admired him, who would get on a plane or a bus or on a video-call and talk to him.

Because whatever problems Aaron was facing, killing himself didn't solve them. Whatever problems Aaron was facing, they will go unsolved forever. If he was lonely, he will never again be embraced by his friends. If he was despairing of the fight, he will never again rally his comrades with brilliant strategies and leadership. If he was sorrowing, he will never again be lifted from it.
Link. I have nothing to add.

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