IT-related websites have recently been flooded with reactions to the suicide of Aaron Swartz. Swartz was a brilliant programmer who had made a lot of contributions to his field. He was a co-owner of Reddit, a popular social news website. He was also an Internet activist. Sadly, he was found to have hanged himself in his apartment on January 11.
Why did it happen? There was no suicide note, but the consensus was that he was depressed due to the legal battle he was going through which had him facing a potential prison term of up to 35 years. The case stemmed from charges brought against him for downloading four million academic journal articles without permission (more details here).
I’m not going to comment on the legal stuff. My focus here is on why he made such an unfortunate decision.
As it turned out, he had already contemplated suicide back in 2007. He even wrote a blog post describing the last day in the life of someone who was about to kill himself, and it was intense. Here is an excerpt:
The day Alex killed himself, he wandered his apartment in a daze. The light streaming through the windows gave everything a golden glow, which had the odd effect of making the filth he’d become surrounded with seem cinematic.
He went to a new café across the street, the one place he hadn’t been to yet. Light streamed in through the huge picture windows, making the whole place seem bright and airy. So much light, in fact, that the outside seemed a glow, as if the café was suspended in the middle of a powerful white light. People held lowered, indistinct conversations. People on his left, people on his right, people behind him.
By the way, in the original version “Alex” was “Aaron.” Scary, isn’t it?
Through the blog post, I got a glimpse of how someone with suicidal thoughts sees the world. But, to be honest, I still can’t understand why someone would choose such a tragic way to escape their troubles. Hearing of Swartz’s death saddened me.
Life, I believe, is a gift – a great gift. It’s something to be appreciated and grateful for. There are ups and downs, of course. But the beauty of life is still there. Though you might not be able to see it in moments of darkness, you will soon see it if you keep going.
If you were now in bad times, I just want to say this: there is always hope. Your situation isn’t as bad as it looks. Many people have faced a more challenging situation than yours and overcome it. You can do the same. Just keep fighting on. A bright future is waiting for you.
Photo by Felipe GabaldÃ³n