By On September 15th, 2008

Goodbye David

I've been feeling hollow since learning of David Foster Wallace's death this weekend. Wallace was one of the greatest writers of our times, and when he committed suicide this past Friday night, the news swelled beyond the book sections of newspapers and through the Internet.

According to a tribute in the New York Times, Wallace had been taking antidepressants for over 20 years, and this year started experiencing side effects and had to go off the medication. Instead, he turned to electroconvulsive shock therapy (don't get me started), and could not find relief. He had even been hospitalized on a number of occasions.

I can't say whether Wallace's death is a failure of mental healthcare, or the result of something far more complicated, but I have noticed that it has sparked a dialogue about suicide online.

Although Wallace struggled with many an inner demon, he cared deeply about the world and our place in it, and committed himself to learning it through rigorous study and examination. Here are a few life-affirming words from hiss 2005 Kenyon Commencement Address:

"The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death. It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over."

Click here for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline

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