Aaron Swartz’s Suicide Confronts The Reality Of Depression

Picture of Aaron Swartz
Picture of Aaron Swartz (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Cryptic” message on Twitter feed…

Do you use the social media software Twitter? If so, did you ever notice that sometimes you read a tweet about a person and you wonder “should I know this person?” On Friday, January 11, 2013, there was one such tweet posted around 11:30AM that read, simply: “RIP Aaron Swartz.” We have grown accustom to the acronym RIP – Rest in Peace, but who was this person Aaron Swartz? If time permitted and you Googled his name, then you probably realized that while you may not have “known” Aaron Swartz you more than likely use his work products every day of the week.

Just two examples of Aaron’s work product that “help” people stay connected…

While we hope that you subscribe to our blog, could be you subscribe to news feeds or other blogs. The software that allows you to do so is called RSS. While RSS originally stood for Rich Site Summary, it came to be known as really simple syndication. The RSS symbol is shown here. Now do you recognize it? Aaron Swartz was a member of the RSS-DEV Working Group that co-authored the “RSS 1.0” specification of RSS.

How about Reddit? Do you use it? It is a social news and entertainment website. According to Wikipedia, “Reddit was founded in June 2005 by Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian in Medford MA, both 22-year-old graduates of the University of Virginia. It received its initial funding from Y Combinator. The team expanded to include Christopher Slowe in November 2005. Between November 2005 and January 2006 Reddit merged with Aaron Swartz’s company Infogami, and Swartz became an equal owner of the resulting parent company, Not A Bug. Condé Nast Publications, owner of Wired, acquired Reddit on October 31, 2006, and the team moved to San Francisco.”  

Aaron Swartz committed suicide, a result of his depression

All the news is filled with articles about Aaron’s death. He was only 26, but had accomplished so much in his lifetime. Many articles talk about his achievements and his legal problems, but many are spotlighting his mental illness with the hope that his death may serve to kick-start a conversation about depression.

Here is CNN News coverage of Aaron’s life, his story, and his death:

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Aaron didn’t hide his depression, he even blogged about it…

Aaron once wrote: “I feel ashamed to have an illness…It sounds absurd, but there still is an enormous stigma around being sick.”  The name of Aaron’s blog was Raw Thoughts and you can read his post from November 2007 about being sick.

We have often written about depression on our blog. Here at Cottonwood Tucson we treat depression and understand the description provided by CNN mental health expert Dr. Charles Raison, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona in Tucson: “While most of us feel better or worse based on what’s happening in our lives, but always within limits, people with serious mood disorders often remain frozen in states of profound despair or unrealistic euphoria for extended periods.”

A final good-bye to Aaron…

Today family and friends gathered in Highland Park, Illinois, to say their final good-byes to Aaron. We offer our condolences.  

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