Ned Vizzini, young adult author, has died


“Has died” feels like loaded language when the alternative is “has killed himself.” Or at least, that very conscious word choice comes off as a criticism of suicide.

(Content deleted because it was inappropriate to bring my own feelings into a discussion of someone else’s pain).

I apologise.

My heart goes out to his family, who he has left to deal with his choice.


I don’t think you can actually weigh your options and the consequences of your actions that rational and far-sighted anymore once you’re in a massive depression.


I disagree. It’s like saying “He has died of cancer,” or “Died of heart failure.” Depression is something that happens to you, not something you choose.

This wording focuses on the death, which is the sad part.


Your comment is terribly cruel, and shows a lack of understanding of mental illness. Major clinical depression is a profound mood disorder in which victims are overwhelmed by irrational, out of control emotions. It is a misconception that someone in Vizzini’s situation can sit back and make a decision about the benefits of taking his own life versus the happiness of his family. Vizzini is practically proof this is true: is there any calculus that rationally justifies a creatively successful, handsome, popular young author killing himself? Was he so stupid he couldn’t see that? Of course not.

Major clinical depression is an illness. Blaming extremely depressed people for not seeing the bright side is like blaming insomniacs for not just making themselves sleep, or schizophrenics for not taking the time to think clearly. It makes no sense.


1 Like

Your comment is inappropriate and uncalled for. I’m sure you would dislike it for someone to come and stand before your friends and family during your funeral and call you a selfish coward or other equally insulting term?

Depression fucks with the mind, changes the way you think for sometimes eternally long periods of time, it makes you feel as though your family would actually be better off without you there whilst its fronds are wrapped around your mind.

Yes, some people can fight off the terrible anguish until it passes but that anguish – those hours, days, months of confusion, self doubt and apparent isolation grow harder and harder to deal with each time they visit and you find you can no longer trust your own emotions and then one day, amidst all of this shit the depression – not the person beneath it – decides for you that this time things won’t get better, you’ll just sit there with your insides numb except for a burning agony in your stomach and the feeling of utter desolation trying to claw its way out your head for ever. It decides that no one will care or that if they do, things will be better for them without you. It decides that you’ll take that gun or rope or pills or trip somewhere high and you’ll strike yourself off the face of the planet.

To say people like Vizzini are selfish cowards because they killed themselves insults them for having an illness that caused them so much pain and torment over many, many years.


Is selfishness always clearly wrong when one is choosing to avoid terrible and seemingly unending pain? Would you be as quick to condemn, say, someone who was working against some political regime you thought was evil, and who named named after being captured and continually tortured? The main thing to be said against suicide due to sorrow or depression is that the person is likely too pessimistic about the possibility the sorrow/depression could lift–but that would be pointing to their clouded thinking and criticizing that, not scolding them for bad moral choices. I guess to the extent that a person with suicidal depression holds off a little longer out of guilt about what it would do to loved ones, guilt might have some use as a tool, but it seems both pointless and heartless to condemn someone after they have already killed themselves.

1 Like

My grandfather committed suicide at 84 years old. He was dying of emphasize and was NOT going to recover. I was 17 at the time. He had always been an extremely active man, and being bed ridden was literal torture for him.

Would you also call my Grandfather a coward?

I wouldn’t. I found his choice brave, and I’m really proud that he was able to take control over his own death like that. He had always been a man of action. “Fuck this shit. I’m out.”

It forever changed my views of suicide, particularly when it comes to the chronically ill (and depression is, indeed, sometimes chronic and will never be able to be “cured” in certain individuals).

Perhaps you wouldn’t classify my Grandfather’s suicide as “selfish”, but then perhaps you would need to realize that you need to choose your words more carefully. Or maybe you do find his choice “selfish” in which case: His family doesn’t, so you can fuck right off, as it’s none of your business. AT ALL.


I’m sorry to hear of your friend’s passing, Mark. I remember hearing him on Gweek and thinking he was pretty funny and talented.
ps. I wouldn’t read any of the comments on this thread if I were you - they won’t make you feel any better.

I get that. However, I have also been on the ‘still living and left to deal with the suicide of someone I love’ too often to be blandly accepting of such a selfish choice.

I am not diminishing clinical depression or anything else. I am rejecting suicide as an appropriate response. No, people in that state don’t get that there is a future or a way out. But they need to, and we need to do our best to help them find it. And sometimes it won’t work and they will commit suicide. And it will still be a selfish choice.

No, your grandfather was not a coward. I might choose the same at 84 if I had the same situation. I am strongly in support of legalizing assisted suicide for terminal or untreatable individuals, on the grounds that we are all autonomous and should have that right.

That said, I feel very differently when young people make that choice. Maybe I shouldn’t, I hold individual autonomy very highly in my personal value system. But with autonomy comes responsibility to those around us, especially those who love us. And that changes things. I have lots of anger and pain about the people in my life who have chosen suicide, and I have every right to that anger.

All that said, I should probably stop participating in this thread as it is about someone I don’t know. I feel for his family and wish them the best. I’m sorry Mark for expressing my own views about an event that is tragic for you, it was out of line.

I think you’re attributing too much control to the victim. You keep calling suicide a choice. I guess if you take things to their rational limits, it is. The problem is that extremely depressed people are emotionally out of control, and desperate, so the choice isn’t rational. Scorning suicide victims as inconsiderate of others’ needs is appalling.

Here’s an analogy:
The rational response to your clothes catching fire is to roll on the ground to put it out. In reality many people panic and choose to run, fanning the flames and burning themselves. Then their families face the grief of having a scarred loved one. Would you care to call the burned person selfish because they should have acted rationally, and saved their families so much sadness? Or would you sympathize and call them a victim?


I have sat down with beautiful, young, wealthy, high-achieving people with families who have attempted suicide and asked them what they have to live for, and they literally cannot think of a thing. Sometimes people truly believe their loved ones will be better off without them, sometimes they completely but honestly downplay the effect it will have on loved ones, sometimes they recognize it would have been awful for them but at the point they were at before committing suicide they just literally didn’t/ couldn’t think of it.

Suicide is not an “appropriate” response to many situations (terminal illnesses and the like excluded), but expecting an appropriate response from someone whose disease renders them incapable of thinking rationally about many things, including their own death, is itself not rational. Yes, we need to try to prevent depression from occurring, help depressed people not get to that point, and we need to intervene if at all possible with people who are suicidal. But to me “desperate” is more accurate than “selfish”.

I would feel furious and completely betrayed if someone I loved killed themselves, and I’m sorry you’ve had to go through that multiple times. I disagree with your viewpoint, but I do see where you’re coming from.

1 Like

People who commit suicide due to mental illness have had their free will (such that anyone has free will) removed by mental illness. Pointing out how selfish they are just makes you sound like an arsehole.


Very sad to hear about Ned’s death, my prayers and thoughts are with his wife Sabra here and their little son.

Sadly, this young man seems to have had a long term mental illness that led to him taking his life. But last week NPR had a program about young suicide prevention, and I was thunderstruck by one anecdote. The parent of one victim said their child’s life wasn’t chronically bad, but he had a few negative incidents one week and because of his impulsive nature, he did an irrevocable thing. I had some very bad times as a teen, but impulsiveness was not one of my faults. It never occurred to me my tendency to inaction saved my life!

I always thought of impulsiveness as potentially fatal in terms of careless behavior, but how many young people die because they give in to a momentary feeling that they can’t bear? It breaks my heart. Ned couldn’t make it through, but for most of us, it gets better.

Having lost several friends, including a very close one to suicide has changed my feelings on the subject. I used to think it was a selfish act, but not so much. This quote from David Foster Wallace really says it best.

“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”


So, why is my grandfather not a coward and this man is? They were both suffering from chronic illness. This is where your argument stands still. My grandfather left a lot of loved ones behind who DID NOT find his actions as brave as I did – who felt he should have left naturally, rather than by suicide. Does he not have the same responsibilities to family and loved ones as this man does?

Also the fact that the chronically depressed DO NOT think like you or I, and their “choices” are therefore not the same.

See, I am apparently bi-polar, but I work more on the manic scale. I do get depressed, but I don’t get suicidal. I just don’t. My brain doesn’t work that way (even if it would make it a LOT easier for me to get help, but that’s for a different discussion).

Not everyone has the same brain function. That doesn’t make someone with a chronic disease (depression) “selfish”.