I had a chance to meet Aaron Swartz several times. He was of the generation I grew up in. He was a great guy and had such a passion. I didn’t know him personally like a best pal but he touched all of our lives. He was a bright light of passion just meeting him the first time. He talked about technology and knowledge with hope, altruism, and a dream it could make life better for his fellow-man. It pains to see such an amazing mind, heart, and talent snuffed out early. Hopelessness from surmounting pain, emotional turmoil, and the stress of multiple fronts caused him to see the darkest path out of it.
To the loved ones, please watch out for the signals. You might brush it off you might not even notice the small changes over time. But the pain is real. We all feel it but when it happens for long periods, it can break you like a boat on the rocks of the shore.
And to people who are in that place, asking for help is not weakness. Do not close your self off. Open your self to the world. Please, Mental illness is a medical issue, you can get help, you have support. You have the ability to find support even if you think you have no one.
As a survivor of suicide, I am more than happy opening up about the fact I still very much live with major depression every day. I am not afraid honest about it. No one should have to fear help. Everyone should have access to it. But for too many it’s to late, cost prohibitive, culturally a sign of weakness, or worse considered dishonorable.
Aaron was not weak. He had the most difficult stress of a man so young. He was targeted for his Civil Disobedience and quest to share the fire from Olympus, not as a god but as a mortal who climbed the peak. But not like the careless Icarus, he did not crash because of careless ignorance. The “gods” deemed him disruptive and target him. He was scared, hopeless, and he was afflicted with a medical condition that only community vigilance can help prevent. He believed in the knowledge. He fought for it and he tried to share it with everyone.
Do not forget Aaron or others like Ilya Zhitomirskiy or your loved ones who are gone. They haunt us all and have touched our lives. Do not forget they are victims to a large problem in culture. One as a nation (United States) we do not ever address support for.