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If I get hit by a truck... (aaronsw.com)
651 points by artursapek on Jan 12, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 50 comments

For those basically judging Aaron for his action, let me suggest that if you are so against suicide, you should stop lecturing and judging others. Instead, be compassionate, accepting, caring, patient, help people carry their burdens, turn the other cheek, be the bright spot in their day. People who attempt suicide are generally people who cracked under the strain. You generally don't know what burdens they bore, how you and others made the burden more instead of less. If you think people should choose to stay in this world, work on making it a choice worth making for more people. Be kinder, gentler, more generous. Or stfu when someone decides "enough is enough".

I see my above comment is still getting upvotes. If anyone is interested, I did end up writing a blog post as well:


I did submit it to HN earlier. It hasn't inspired discussion, which is no surprise.

Thanks for writing that.

Sure, no problem.

After reading a few of his blog posts from previous years, it almost seemed like he saw it coming years ago. Depression is a terrible thing. Most experience it in mild states. Only unlucky few contemplate suicide on daily basis. Some succumb to it within weeks. Others suffer years. Regardless, it's very sad to see someone so bright take their own life. Before you pull the trigger, tighten that rope around your neck or take those pills think of your loved once. Think of your parents. How miserable their life is going to be without the only being they cared for their entire lives. Then think twice about your life. When you kill yourself you kill others around you. This had stopped me once before and i hope it will help others. We all have a purpose here.

Rest in peace, Aaron.

How much worse is a situation like this when you are literally faced with the threat of decades in prison?

"I have a chance to end it now that I may not have in a few months"

Get help. Honestly, especially if you have health insurance, see a psychologist. I just started and it's a great first step.

Edit: Not directed at this poster, just at anyone who might be feeling depressed. I didn't realize how depressed I was until I talked it out with my psychologist. You sometimes just take it for granted that the misery is baseline.

For some people it could be as simple as realizing that your brain is screwing you over, and therefore you can't merely intellectualize your way out of depression. Your grey matter is (mostly) fine, but it's swimming in a soup of self-perpetuating depression chemicals.

It's all but impossible to force yourself to be happy when your brain is chemically forcing you to be depressed.

It would be awesome if a magic pill existed, but for now the most effective way to reboot your brain chemistry might just be exercise. I joined my local gym, and made myself go regularly by promising myself that I'd only ever listen to my favourite podcasts while in that building.

I now consider myself fully cured.

> It would be awesome if a magic pill existed

I'm pretty sure that's prozac (and it's relatives). It has it's own set of side effects that you may prefer the depression over, but it essentially is a "magic pill". (Depends of course on the severity of your depression).

Meditation, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Exercise, and Drugs are pretty much the corner stones for treating depression.

I think the correct reaction to depression is simply out of the question for too many people: drop everything, get the fuck out. Move somewhere you've always wanted to go. Find an interesting job. New friends. Trouble with a family member? Don't talk to them.

It's a clear step to break your environment from you that I highly recommend. It requires money, time, and the ability to realize just how destructive relationships can be. Most people can't/won't do it.

It was incredibly unsettling to see this as the top link on Hacker News, then skim down the list to see 'Aaron Swartz', 'Aaron Swartz', 'Aaron Swartz', and feel my suspicions grow.

(Yes, I conveniently missed the details of the second link, "Reddit cofounder Aaron Swartz commits suicide".)

The "I'm not dead yet!" felt like a bullet through my head. I never knew him, but being just a human being, I can feel a loss I can not describe.

And he specifically wishes that that footer be replaced with a link (I take it a link pointing out that he's now death).

That guy obviously had a sense of humor.


  > I take it a link pointing out that he's now death
Sadly, this isn't the Family Guy universe.

No, just sensible.

Being sensible about things like death provokes nervous laughter from most people, which they then mistakenly attribute to humor.

I have a question for the community here. Aaron writes "I ask that the contents of all my hard drives be made publicly available." Should we unmask his secret Beeminder goal? http://beeminder.com/aaronsw (Assuming it's nothing embarrassing, or even helps shine light on what's happened.)

I would vote against exposing his goal because we don't know why he had marked it private, unless there's some explicit indication that he would also like all of his online accounts made public.

You could contact Sean B. Palmer, as specified on the linked page: "For other stuff, email Sean. I'm sure he'll do something reasonable."

Regardless of whether you open his goal, you should freeze his account in some way to prevent someone from logging in.

If the contents of his hard drive are made publicly available, that will expose his login cookies (and potentially passwords), which means members of the general public would be able to access his Beeminder account. They might also gain access to email, which could be used to do a password reset and thus gain access.

Smart, done. Thanks so much, John. (Now I'm dreading the skull and crossbones watermark that's going to appear when he derails on his public goal -- especially for how that will look to people not familiar with Beeminder. Maybe I'll suppress that too.)

I assume "contents of his hard drive publicly available" was intended to mean essays or other work. Maybe not even personal email (since the counterparties are still alive). Almost certainly not passwords.

Now I'm sort of thinking of updating my "if I die" scripts (since I've added machines since I wrote them). Although I hope to never die, or at least to not die for ~60-80 years, there's always the truck/bus/gunfight/etc. risk.

I think so, and that is not just me being curious. Some data he kept private on a site seems about the same as his own hard drives. Some good might come of it, who knows.

>"Oh, and BTW, I'll miss you all."

We miss you too, Aaron.

Did he write that when he was 16? Makes me sad that he had already accomplished so much at that age, and is not there anymore.

Exactly what I thought when I saw the year in the URL. This is just incredible. There isn't a slightest hint of being written by a 16 year old. What a huge loss

I felt suspicious about it so I opened http://www.aaronsw.com/2002/ : "/2002 is a home for random things I want to publish." So it doesn't seem to be the publication year.

The digital signature was created with GnuPG 1.2.1, released in October 2002. GnuPG 1.2.2 was released in May 2003.

Web archive has it at Jan 2003, so it seems to be awfully close.

Right. Given the time to index, it could indeed come from 2002.

Why? He finished all his work quickly and got to leave early. Some people don't squander their hours.

As the comedian Doug Stanhope says : "I'm kinda out of shit. Not in this set, I mean I have some stuff I put on paper. But in the long term, I think I'm outta shit. [I'm] fucking cannibalizing my own— seventeen years, how much more do you have to say? If I die soon, don't ever say I died too young. [...] Every time an artist dies young- Kurt Cobain, or whatever, there's always the people "It's so sad, he had so much more to give." — How do you know? Maybe he was out of shit. How do you know? He's done. He got all the money, he did all the drugs, he fucked all your holes. And that's the American Dream, and when you're done with that you go "Oh, that's why they call it a dream. — It's bullshit, I'm still empty." And he cashed out. How do you know what any artist had left? How do you know if Jimi Hendrix hadn't had died he wouldn't have wound up doing Superbowl half-time duets with Elton John right now?"

Looking through a website that was made by someone who is dead now feels very weird.

Especially the "I'm not dead yet!" note on the bottom of the page :(

Kinda creepy.

Since he wrote that awesome online will, I wonder if he prepared the passwords so people can execute his will.

I didn't know much about him aside from the fact that he is one of the founding member of reddit before this. I came to know about all his achievements and contribution to the things that matters a lot to me personally which he did at such young age after this incident.

Even though I almost never heard of him before, I still feel that we lost a big one. Never before I felt this way because of a stranger, and to be honest, even kinda feel weird myself. May he rest in peace.

The "I'm not dead yet" at the bottom gives me chills.

To me it in strange way tells that maybe he had considered something like that at so early point? Because people usually do not prepare for things they really do not expect to happen.

You don't have a will? I've had one since I had anything worth passing on, including physical and virtual possessions.

I'd equate it's importance with an effective backup strategy - something every diligent person does. So I wouldn't read anything into the existence of this page other than he was a diligent person.

I think it's incredible that he had the foresight to consider the morbid possibility of death at such a young age and take appropriate actions to manage his responsibilities even beyond the grave.

I've thought it but never taken any action. In real life I set up my relevant payments (life insurance) and made a will. Everyone should make a will because of the consequences/issues that happen as a result of a lack of a will

I don't know much about him until today,as i read more and more about him. I feel very sad. I couldn't believe some 16 yr guy writing

"Source Code Copyright for my GPLed source code should revert to the Free Software Foundation. They seem to have a reasonable policy about letting people use the code."

So far, i thought only Indian judiciary system is so stupid compared to US judiciary system. Now I don't see a difference between them. RIP.

The need for a digital probate policy seems very important.

He based this his from esr, and the link to esr is now broken. Is there a central clearinghouse for thes documents? A digitally signed will should be far harder to forge and could be legally binding. To see ones digital wishes be fulfilled from the afterlife should set some tormented spirits to rest.

Was this page not noticed before? Surely if it had been, someone would've spoken to him about the possibility of him suicide? I feel like the Internet could've done a lot more for him.

R.I.P Aaron, you achieved a massive amount in the short time you were here. Remember that, wherever you are.

It seems like a pragmatic web page. Plenty of us try to reduce the 'hit by a (bus|truck|car)' factor but we don't do much more than pushing to github regularly.

Days like these, I can't help but share some Pooh:


Disclaimer: I am a founder of the above entity, this is just my expression of solidarity for Aaron.

The line I'll miss you all said everything.

What a brilliant man he was, so sad. Do people still make these types of pages these days?

..damn.... kinda weird reading that after the news i just heard. RIP man.

Saddened to see someone so talented and young take their own life.

It's never worth it.

EPIC AARON! hats off buddy!

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