I'm not saying this was the case for Ilya, or had any part in his death, but I know for me it would have been hard to swallow. There are many silent founders out there that gave up everything for an unrealized dream in the path to startup success and it has a real toll on psyches.
Best wishes to his family & friends.
EDIT: This appears to be a very controversial comment. The vote count seems to be oscillating up and down very rapidly. I don't want to make this out to be a discussion about Diaspora, so I won't comment further on that point. But the mental health of founders is a real issue and rarely discussed. Maybe there should be a more open discussion about this issue.
It's the psychological risk of knowing you really, really tried -- and still failed. That is the hard part, because everyone goes in with Dilbert/mass media notions of how easy it is to be a CEO or (just as bad) Social Network illusions of how easy it is to grow meteorically while fighting off lawsuits.
The truth is that it's not easy, that it takes a special and lucky person. If you fail it's really hard to realize you aren't that special. The possibly healthier (?) way of dealing is to convince yourself that it was bad luck, or the other guy cheated. Then it's not as much of a hit to the ego, to the sense of your own capabilities. But it's hard.
When I was much younger and starting my first (fundably doomed) startup, one of my cofounders liked to say, "yeah, most businesses fail, but those statistics include companies trying to sell soft drinks to Eskimos and combination Chinese food/pizza restaurants". Then we'd all chuckle, knowing that the statistics most certainly didn't capture dynamic new technology firms like ours.
No. Most companies fail. Look at the list of dead YC companies. Those were screened by a team that has specialized in doing nothing but screening founding teams and then attempting to give them every advantage their considerable and growing infrastructure and connections can give them. And they still fail.
Because that is what startups do. They fail.
The best, most talented, most experienced founders in the world would presumably be among the first to tell you that you can't read anything about your self from the simple fact that your company failed. Learn what you can, but don't ever let it grind on you.
(Some people just shouldn't be in this game, for whatever it's worth, like Matt Damon said about the no-limit players in Rounders; not because they can't, but because it's not healthy for them.)
EVERY business fails. Every single one. Some businesses somehow manage to stay in business when they run out of money and keep going on until they succeed. However, that's what businesses are up against. I think going into that armed and aware is one thing that makes success more likely.
Another lesson to take from Steve's experience: the bigger the impact your startup is likely to make, the greater the chance it will fail. That might seem quite counterintuitive at first. Certainly, if there's a market and the demand is there, then success should be forthcoming, right?
Except if the problem is unsolved, it's probably unsolved for a reason. I'm reminded of something I read (I believe it was from "Germs, Guns, and Steel", but I don't have it to reference): invention is the mother of necessity! Safe startups give people something they already want. Great startups give people something they didn't even know they needed.
But humans are dumb animals. The first three times you show them something better, they'll turn their backs. So the more important your work is, the more likely you are to fail, and fail, and fail again. It's not you, it's just human nature.
That's why he's so inspiring. He's a protagonist you can identify with, who triumphed over setbacks and flaws.
I think it would be healthier to accept that failure is normal and to rather enjoy the road to Ithaca . Life without challenges/failures would be too boring.
Its important to understand how the difference between your own thinking and society's thinking can and will affect your own happiness (usually in a negative way). Its not something many people think about but has very real consequences.
I don;t think we will ever know, but I will say that pressure to succeed and not fail is fundamentally unhealthy.
What I'm getting at is maybe it wasn't "failure" that disturbed this man but simply the pressure to succeed. I'm someone who is succeeding in business so far but I still get bad bouts of depression and feel like a failure anyway. It's not just me either, it can be anyone.
I don't know enough about this man and Diaspora to have insight into his thoughts or to know about the success or failure of the company but I haven't seen any indications from anyone here that he was distressed over failure. It could've just been the pressure of it all. Whether you've made it big or you're still the little guy in a garage that pressure is the same. It's all relative. The little guy worried about payng rent and the big guy sweats over the down payment on the mansion. Same pressure, different context.
I guess I will fail that day when I will conclude that I am too tired of trying (not really, really tried -- and still failed).
I don't believe "The truth is ... that it takes a special and lucky person".
The truth is we need one or two hands on our shoulder and someone to stand during the darkest hours and say "darkest hours are always before the sun comes". ..sad to read about Ilya Zhitomirskiy.
As a successful developer who spent years thinking "with enough time, I can solve any problem" and was just caught back by reality (efforts do not always imply success), this comment stuck a chord with me.
It definitely takes a mental fortitude and a dash of ignorance to do this stuff.
All of the most special people in history endured many failures. So while failure can teach us many things, "you're not special" is absolutely not one of them.
Not saying this is the case for him, but in the end, we're just cells.. and if we don't receive certain stimuli, science dictates we go crazy.
* Source-code full of freshman's mistakes and security exploits. Basically not-to-be-trusted quality code, released to the public for deployment.
* All money invested in the project wasted without anything to show for.
* I know absolutely nobody using diaspora, expect one person.
* This person attempted to invite me, and diaspora failed to send me the invite email. Now he cannot invite me again.
It's a laughing stock. For the parts of the internet which has even heard about it. Which is the minority of the internet. As a social network this is a failure on absolutely every aspect I can find measures for.
The goals were admirable, but goals alone wont win you any credit. You have to get there as well. Diaspora didn't and most likely wont.
Certainly, success is subjective but I think the expectations for Diaspora was to be a legit alternative to Facebook and now G+. And while it is an alternative, it's not popular enough for most people to switch over. Furthermore, Diaspora got widely criticized with regards to their funding and subsequent releases... specifically people expecting much more for the amount of investment.
Burnout is one thing but serious depression is another altogether. The pressure of starting a small local business is enough to drive a person mad. Just think about the guys being covered in TC, the widely known ones, the "stars" of the tech startup world. We all like to think they're superhuman and can conquer anything. We all like to think they're living large and wish we had what they have but really it's all relative.
This lime of work (starting a business, startup, whatever you want to call it) is the furthest thing from easy and glamorous as you can get. It's important to have a support network and to take care of yourself especially well when venturing on an endeavor like that. I am insignificant but I can relate. And you know, I bet a many others would echo that sentiment.
It's so damn terrible to see someone so young go like that. To imagine what he could've accomplished in the future and how his family, friends, and coworkers are now robbed of a terrific person is so sad it's beyond words. And make no mistake, we don't have to know someone to know they're great people. We're all great people. If you have just one relationship with a single person in your life then you're special and wonderful in someone else's eyes and you qualify as being great. I didn't know the guy, barely knew of him, but it sucks to see such a great person go.
2. Success is measured in many ways, and one of those ways is dollars. There are many different ways to get dollars.
3. Failure leads to success.
4. Diaspora got GREAT and HIGHLY SUPPORTIVE press about 2 months ago from Free Software Magazine.
5. Diaspora had substantial cash flow shortly after launching the foundation. In fact they got SO MUCH MONEY that PayPal froze their account, probably because they thought it was fraud (fraud detection is REALLY hard and false positives are cheaper than false negatives...this is IMHO the most likely interpretation).
On the contrary, Ilya was in a GREAT position. LOTS of people would have given their left testicle to be him. Now, if he couldn't handle the stress, or he had one too many shots of Vodka, that is tragic, but don't try to bring Diaspora down with him. The facts are not on your side.
tl;dr It is WAAAAY too early to be declaring Diaspora a failure.
This is one of the great overlooked points.
Our community stresses the importance of achievement, success, and technology so much that it's easy to forget what's really most important: each other. Sometimes it takes terrible news like this to jerk us back to that reality.
I never knew Ilya, but if any of his friends of family visits this forum, please know that many thoughts and prayers are with you.
I have no idea what was behind this, so just a few (possibly related) thoughts:
- Let's never forget that everything we do is for other people. They outrank all the ones and zeros. Go hug someone important to you.
- If you ever believe the possibility of something like happening is > .00001, do something, anything. If you don't know what to do, contact me (see my profile) and I'll help in any way I can. Nothing can be more important.
- This was the ultimate failure. I'm so sorry to hear this and hope that Ilya's family and friends somehow find peace.
Its a nice thought, but people in this position often don't want help.
My best Friend was doing a PHD in a Biochemistry related field at University College London back in 2003. He was an outgoing person, had a hot girlfriend and lots of friends. He had a what seemed like a great life and an even better future.
One night we went out together and had a great night. We went our separate ways about 4am and I we arranged to meet at 5pm the next day.
At 2pm the next afternoon I got a call from his flat mate saying that he had committed suicide. He had access to all kinds of chemicals and substances at the as part of his PHD and he had been taking little bits for months and months and making a potent cocktail of poison. He drank the poison and died instantly.
There was no note, no explanation and no reason anyone knew. I was the last person (friend) to see him alive.
I guess I'm saying - even balanced, successful people have their reasons and you will never know or be told what they are.
Go without any plans, any future, just go and see what happens. You'll be free. It may be dangerous, you might not make it, but if your other choice was death the day before, then everything now is just gravy anyways. Don't worry about it.
This may sound silly and simple and extreme, but if you _are_ at that stage then this should be your stop gap. From now on when you're in that dark spot just think about when you're going to pull the trigger on this, not on yourself.
Of course there are lots of things you can do before it comes to this, but if you're past that, just leave your current life totally.
It sounds like a good start to a story, but bad real-world advice.
I had an ex-gf who worked on a suicide hotline, and apparently one of the most powerful things they had in their arsenal were questions like "Who do you think would find your body?" and "How do you think it would affect them?" and other encouragements for suicidal person to think about how their suicide would affect those around them. If you're backpacking alone in Africa, having taken your leave from everybody in your life two months ago, it seems like there'd be a lot less to keep you.
(Also, no offence, but I'm disinclined to take suicide-prevention advice from anyone named "necro"...)
I sincerely doubt it would make any difference, largely because of how you feel about life + yourself (it would require an acceptance of capability of doing such things) + the point of trying to help such a horrid world. I think the more immediate consideration of those people finding your body, etc. will be more effective as that's something undeniable and forces you to consider others in a non-fanciful way.
In other words, a lot of the time the things that are making you unhappy are internal: lack of confidence, self-esteem, self respect, or non-functional brain chemistry. Sure, if there's something weighing you down (a bad relationship or job) then change it. But if you're unhappy with everything in your life then what you need to change is yourself.
The experience of clinical depression is so unutterably horrible that unless you've experienced it you can't know what it's like. There is a huge gulf between moderate depression and the clinical variety. In the depths of serious depression you barely have the energy to get out of bed let alone help anybody, and suggesting that somebody ought to give up aspirations to help these poor, helpless Africans (which country in Africa I might ask - I think natives of African nations might take offence here) is actually more likely to inspire feelings of guilt and isolation than a sense of hope.
The best solution for somebody experiencing issues is to seek professional guidance and not take romanticised + frankly fanciful advice from a random person on a news site.
Sorry to be harsh, but this could affect somebody out there and I think it needs to be said.
Of course it's different for everyone, but it's easy to say "Sell your possessions and go forth" - not everyone can do it though, being not willing or able.
The feeling can be beyond words and the energy needed to talk about it seems beyond us but I've gone the pretend route where you put on a brave face and act like a different person and it's just not healthy. It leads to you being even more depressed and no one having a clue which is so dangerous. I don't have the answers to getting over it (which I have done, personally) but I do know that acting like a different person isn't a good way to go. I hope you're better these days, feel free to get in touch if not. I'd be happy to talk about whatever.
Now that I'm sober the motives for ending my life seem banal in hindsight. Cheers to your sister.
It may end up being the case, but at the moment, people are just speculating.
I think we'd have a much more harmonious society if we put lithium in the water rather than fluoride. http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/194/5/464.abstract
If, instead of just putting fluoride in the water, there was a serious effort made to reduce the amount of refined sugars in our diets, there would be many more arguably beneficial effects other than just reducing tooth decay.
Similarly, instead of thinking about lithiated water, we should really try to treat some of the causes of suicide.
Naturally a lot of people disagree with this and there's constantly heated debate on the future of the media's role.
I gather that exceptions are made for exceptional news.
And this is probably not the best moment for ethical theory.
Your views on mental health are a bit last century.
"Research shows that risk factors for suicide include: depression and other mental disorders, or a substance-abuse disorder (often in combination with other mental disorders). More than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have these risk factors."
So, you're happy to condemn 90% of people who commit suicide to go and 'make that choice' because 'it's their right'?
I don't disagree that it's anyone's so-called 'right' to kill themselves, but when 90% of individuals who do so are suffering from mental illness or substance abuse disorders, I think it's far to broad and naive (not to mention downright heartless) to fob it off as a mere 'choice'.
Have you known anyone personally who's comitted suicide? I bet that if someone close to you, whom was having a hard time (by stretch of the mind I wouldn't say it's too difficult to imagine in this economy, the loss of a job and a home could be a sufficient trigger for a Major Depressive Episode), decided to kill themselves over a temporary hardship.
I doubt you'd merely say "well, it was their choice". I bet you'd rethink your statement and your position. You my friend are very wrong.
I'm curious to know what percentage of the general population suffers from mental and/or substance abuse disorders, in comparison with that 90%.
And no, I have not known anyone personally who has killed themselves, at least not to the best of my knowledge. I do know, however, that I myself suffer from a number of "mental disorders" and at one point found myself a good bit suicidal.
If someone close to me did kill themselves, of course I wouldn't just say "ah well," that's being unrealistic. I'd be just as affected by it as if they got hit by a bus. My views on death are much different than most, though, so regardless of the manner or intent, it wouldn't affect me anywhere near the same way as you. No position changed, you lose your bet.
Yes. My cousin did by jumping and my sister attempted by overdose. Though I called an ambulance which saved her life. I won't argue that people shouldn't intervene when they can.
'I doubt you'd merely say "well, it was their choice". I bet you'd rethink your statement and your position.'
Not really. She's gone through a lot of shit. Meds. Psychiatrist. Friends. Hobbies. Boyfriends. Family. They help but they aren't the answer to everyone. And so if she attempts to commit suicide again and is successful I would be deeply saddened but at least know that she found a peace that she couldn't find in life.
Hell, even I experience that same lows. What is the point of having someone suffer through an existence which there is no solution that corrects the problem?
Low serum cholesterol has been shown to be a suicide risk factor. 
Get you cholesterol tested and try adding more good fats to your diet like oily cold-water fish (think salmon and sardines), butter, eggs (including the yolk!), and coconut milk/oil. You should aim for a low LDL and a high HDL number.
Anecdotally, have you ever seen how most teens and soldiers in the US eat? Their diets are low on good fats and high in bad carbohydrates that will send your cholesterol and triglyceride levels out-of-wack. A diet of Red Bull and Doritos will mess you up.
I remember being depressed with suicidal thoughts, and basically spending the full night telling myself to stfu because I refuse to do it, yet I could not control the thoughts, only the actions taken. It was very difficult, basically the rational part of the brain desperately battling with the emotional part, and that emotional part does not seem to get tired... I cannot imagine people living this way for extended periods of time, would require help from people who care, and reaching out to em.
The down side is that depression has a component of hopelessness to it which prevents people from reaching out to others where had they had a well balanced state of mind they would.
Maybe this Diaspora fellow thought people wanted to kill him, so he thought he'd do it himself to save them the trouble because he'd already let them down once. Who knows.. but that's an ill thought process to have.
Tangentially, there should be a streamlined euthanasia option to those serving very long prison sentences.
For what it's worth, you're not the only one who believes that. My world-view is also heavily rooted in the notion of "self ownership," and I hold that an individual has a right to end their life whenever they want.
That's not to say that suicide is (often|ever|usually|whatever) a good idea; and I'd be the last to encourage someone to commit suicide. But it is a right, and I believe it can even be a totally rational choice in some cases.
If you have the right to your own life, then do you have any obligation to other people's lives? Also, how do you know you own yourself: did you create yourself or did your parents? And who created them? Would you ask your creator if it's okay to suicide, and then would you be open to answers?
Lastly, are you sure you die when you die: how do you know the pain won't go on someplace else?
From my reading, suicide thought is a transient state but with permanent consequences if acted upon.
Also, the best way to fix your mind, is to fix your body, rather than destroy it.
haha.. whatever you say.
Do you have any information about this? And why would you have been helpful in this situation?
Perhaps unlike any other profession we have a closeness that binds us, we socialize, we date, we make lifelong friends from within the startup community.
Even if we don't know the startup founder directly we know of their work, their successes and their failures, their contribution to the story of the startup world.
Speculation suggests that it may have been self-inflicted, even if it's not true, it's worth stepping back and appreciating the fact that startup founders often find themselves under immense pressure and often keep it quiet.
When's the last time you asked someone how their startup was doing to get a reply "not so good", founders are expected to be eternal optimists and this expectation can make it harder for those struggling or suffering to ask for help from their friends (who are often from the startup world themselves).
Maybe we need a Startups Anonymous to give founders a place where they can drop their public persona and be honest about the worries that are keeping them up at night.
That being said, great initiatives like FailCon (http://thefailcon.com/) do exist, however I personally don't believe a consumption-centric format (i.e. standard lecture/conference/meetup format) will cut it; deep interaction and open sharing on a regular basis is the only way.
We in LTFA adhere to Chatham House rules (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chatham_House_Rule), so there is confidence when unburdening ourselves... and that's a big part of it, tbh!
So true, the need to keep that positive projection can really eat people up. It can even be really hard to complain or talk about the downside with friends and family. A mentor who's been through it themselves  may be one of the best ways to not only get advice but also release the stress by being really open about problems.
 best if they don't have a financial interst.
Stop it! Don't downvote me just yet.
In all seriousness i think this is about expectations; not specifically related to start-ups or even business; expectations from parents, friends and even from yourself can be very stressful... and if you are prone to depression it just gets worse.
(If it turns out this is inaccurate, please excuse the speculation, but I still think this is important.)
I think it makes it harder to do this for introverts, and there is a larger number of those in the tech community.
Also, perhaps electronic communication is not always adequate for this. So take the time to meet and visit in person.
In some jurisdiction there is a difference if "the balance of mind was disturbed" or if the coroner believed it was an attempted suicide (cry for help) that 'went wrong'
He was genuinely one of the kindest people I've ever met. Along with that, one of the most driven and intelligent peers I've ever encountered. Any time I ever had a chance to converse with him, it was always a very pleasant experience. He was someone I felt I had truly connected with. I only wish I could tell him that now.
Take care buddy. Thank you for enlightening me.
I was inspired by time spent with him, and my own ideas flourished as a result. It's painful to think that noone will get to talk or dream with him again, but I am grateful for the brief time I had.
As a community we rarely talk about the darker side of a startup. We make it seem like ancient Roman warriors on the quest to glory. In reality it can be a dark, depressing road. Depression is real and can hit harder than anything you've ever experienced.
How many people talk about how depression? How at times things will seem so hopeless that you won't have anywhere to turn? It is certainly not the most popular topic.
My condolences to all who knew him.
The similarities are that there was considerable press coverage of Diaspora and that they seemed, at least to me, destined to fail mostly just because it was a hard thing to do given their structure. It is a true shame that this individual took the failure personally as it wasn't at all his fault, again it was primarily structural in my opinion. Gene Kan I understand was somewhat susceptible for other reasons to depression.
Did you know him? Is this just speculation?
So, I would say that taking vitamin D in the winters is a good idea.
Kipling's "IF" seems an appropriate addition to the discussion thread tonight.
IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!
Thank you Ilya.
> I've lost a friend, and it's been techcrunched.
I'm a religious person, so often this translates to worrying about how I'm prepared should I also meet an early grave, but its important that in times like this that we also see the importance of others in our lives, our family, relationships etc.
Easy to forget that the thing we work so hard for can be wiped away in a split second.
My deepest sympathies to all involved.
I don't know the circumstances of his death, but I do hope that his family and colleagues get to see what an impact it's had on the hacker community.
I look forward to hearing ways that they'd like us to honour his passing; until then I'm going to do it the way I know best -- keep hacking.
It's awful to see young lives wasted in this way... whether they're 'promising' in conventional ways or not. Many people have made it through The Abyss to go on to great things - which can include things that are completely unimportant to society at large. No need to be engulfed by the values of others. Be true to yourself.
I suppose one thing we can learn here is to be more sensitive about other peoples' work. Sometimes tech-related articles/comments/rants take a very harsh tone, and even though it might be valid criticism, it's easy to forget that some developer might have poured his/her heart and soul into what you're dismissing (or even ridiculing).
Even if it was suicide, this too we will overcome.
CNN confirmed it was suicide: http://money.cnn.com/2011/11/14/technology/diaspora_cofounde...
I hope the passing of a co-founder doesn't result in the passing of the project as well.
Insensitive perhaps, and I don't believe anything similar happened, but FWIW I had the same thought.
It's the case where no close family/friends have expressed such a decision that concern should be raised... and it's hard to determine without good reportage.
that's why the news of Michael Jackson's death caused Twitter and even Google to crash
Maybe, but it remains a choice whether or not to say something.
Conventional manners tend to lean toward "not" in this context.
Google did not crash, an automated system blocked the queries as they looked like spam.
This man died young, but so did the local 19 year old young woman killed just after midnight by a driver just after she rescued an injured dog from the road.
You can already see someone saying the cause of death does not matter, but why does this death announcement matter?
edit: Poster removed his admonishment regarding questions about the cause of death.
People close to this person obviously will suffer due to their loss, but his death announcement gets posted here in some sort of limbo where no one (or very few) knew him. But we must respond with condolences to people we don't know about a person we only know though his involvement in a web application.
edit2: Twitter messages directed at the deceased indicate suicide.
You just highlighted exactly what I tried to write about! Why have a thread full of condolences from strangers directed at strangers and shun any actual discussion?
Most people clicked the story to find out the cause of death. If this young man indeed killed himself, we could have a reasonable discussion about the stresses of life and specifically related to tech, but we can't.
Instead, I strongly believe that most (if not all) condolences posted here come from people fulfilling a social expectation rather than a specific feeling towards this person.
I would hope those who knew this person and know his surviving friends and family have a more direct line of communication than comments on news.yc.
Because this is how people deal with the existence of death, and they appreciate having a place to pay their respects independent of having an "actual discussion." Why do you think that ceremonial burial is a near-universal element of human culture? A breaking-news thread announcing a person's early death is a terrible place to have a discussion about "the stresses of life...related to tech." You should have that discussion inside your head, and then engage other people with it at a time when they did not just hear about someone's suicide.
The more awareness of suicide, the risk factors, and how to not tread into that space, the better.
I know YC likes to promote flocking together as founders, but I think it's really healthy to have one or two close confidants that are completely outside the startup community. You need to be able to rant to these people and unwind emotionally. A lot of your rants might be non-sensical, might be hypocritical, and even a tad self-centred. The last thing you need is another opinion in that situation, especially one telling you you're wrong for feeling the way you do. You're least likely to find one from people that simply aren't interested in entrepreneurship.
Suicide has a strong triggering effect; see "Werther effect".
Talking about suicide has to be done carefully to avoid triggering further suicidal behaviour; especially after someone has just completed suicide.
I'd agree that more awareness of suicide prevention is very important.
There's a big difference between talking directly to a person who may be suffering, when you should be direct and then be able to guide them towards help; and talking in a thread like this with a lot of speculation and abstract talk about suicidal behaviours.
tl:dr - you're right, and I missed the point you made in my post.
I am not for censoring information but maybe an admonition to refocus on checking up on friends who might be depressed or stressed out, without specifically mentioning the word "suicide".
The truly sad part (beyond the ending of so many young lives) was the utter cynicism the rest of us got to. The grief counselor who was dealing with our class was utterly horrified by us wondering how anyone commits suicide by using a door knob and how we concluded that someone was using the suicides to hide a murder. Looking back, I suppose it was a coping mechanism.
Take care of your fellows and don't fool around non-professionals.
A good example of the Werther effect is the string of copycat suicides in South Korea after an actress, Lee Eun-Ju, took her own life in 2005. After her death, the suicide rate of the general population in Korea spiked with notable celebrities also taking their own lives. Here's a frightening statistic from the LA Times "In South Korea, 15,413 took their lives that year , or 28.4 for every 100,000 residents."
As an individual who has overcome manic depression and dealt with suicide personally and amongst friends, it is a difficult issue to approach and conquer, especially because when caught in a downward spiral everything seems to perpetuate it and nothing seems to help. It is not enough to simply ask if a friend is doing alright or has harmful intentions but it takes a person (family or friend) who can weather the storm with them. I feel that it is almost equally difficult for the person helping because they have to be willing to listen to and be understanding of the irrational thoughts that plague a suicidal mind. From an outside perspective, the burden of the troubled is vastly greater than the burden upon a helping hand but I think the cumulative process of helping someone can be equally detrimental and taxing. I hate to make a movie reference but the movie What Dreams May Come paints a good metaphor of the risks involved with trying to pull someone out of their sorrow, although not quite as dramatic.
(From Wikipedia which turn quoted Meyers, David G. (2009). Social Psychology (10th Ed). New York: McGraw Hill. ISBN 978-0-07-337066-8).
I'm not affiliated.
Please use use this service if you are even remotely affected by this discussion in a negative way. I fear this will escalate and push a reader over the edge who doesn't think they have an alternative. They do. If you are one of these, please seek help.
If you find yourself dealing with a suicidal person and you don't have this number handy, dial 911.
This young man's death is just as "important" as the young woman you mention...they are both tragedies, they both will leave an indelible wound on many people's lives.
However, this is a social news site for the tech community. The young woman's death is not covered here because it's not relevant to the tech community.
This young man started (with others) a project which is followed, used, and worked on by many in the tech community...it's of interest to them that one of the initiators died just as any other major development would be. It's also safe to say that there are a few people here who either knew him personally or had had some interaction with him, so it's of interest to the community when one of it's own dies.
Any time you load Hacker News there will probably be some stories that don't interest you. However, as long as they follow the community guidelines, are relevant to hackers, etc...it's best to simply skip them.
As for your other point(s), I agree somewhat with what you seem to be saying. I don't think it's rude per se to respectfully ask if anyone happens to know the cause of death. I would find it more rude to speculate. I also agree that a bunch of strangers offering their condolences doesn't accomplish or mean much, but I can also appreciate that people are just trying to be nice to anyone who did know him who happens to be reading.
Also, who are you to say that nobody here knew him?
He will be missed.
In any case, I just donated to the project: https://www.diasporafoundation.org/donate – maybe something good can come from something so sad.
In reading the above, some people might think it insensitive to 'peddle' this here, and I almost censored myself because of that.
But that's not helpful at all.
People are dying unnecessarily because they don't understand physics, cognitive neuroscience, and the possibilities the future allows.
May he live again conditional on him being cryo-preserved. Otherwise, it is sad news that yet another human has been annihilated.
Saving people from destruction includes much more mundane things, such as getting timely and competent help when mental health problems arise - and, just as importantly, striving to keep a community friendly and supportive. Clinical depression is often a chronic and idiopathic illness, but crises can still be triggered by external influences and social support does play a critical role in the way an afflicted person deals with their problems. And that is something we should be working on.
from the article:
"The cause of death is currently unconfirmed."
I shouldn't have responded to this. Should've let it die and get buried but that kind of upset me.
Being able to discuss taboo subjects is what makes it great to be an intellectual after all - why are they taboo? is the reason a good or illogical?
In this case, death is bad, very bad. Something to resist with all our might, and cryonics is one just one tool in saving lives (yes, you are not dead until your actual neurons irrecoverably die). No need to go into the details of information theoretic death, just look into it yourself.
The point is, people deal with the concept of death in ways to prevent the unpleasant thought that you WILL die. One of these ways is to celebrate what a great life this person had, how sad it is that they have died but they had a good life. It's slightly more obvious that this person did not in fact have a good life (he only had 21 years), but the argument applies to all ages.
It's precisely why I decided to not self-censor here. I wanted to point out that we shouldn't celebrate death. Don't let death become something slightly more inevitable in your mind, fight it!