On the evening of January 11 2013, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman found her 26 year old boyfriend, Aaron Swartz, dead in his apartment. Swartz had hung himself leaving no suicide note behind.
Swartz’s suicide sent ripples through the programming world at the loss of such an important figure; a man who (at the age of fifteen) helped write the code for Lessig’s Creative Commons; at nineteen developed one of the biggest social-networking site today – Reddit.
Swartz was a certified hacker in his teenage years and as the years went by his hactivism gained him a negative view with the government. It seems that Swartz was overwhelmed with the attention authorities were giving him and his work. Swartz posed a threat with his growing circle and immense knowledge of politics, corruption and secrets.
However to claim that it was this fear of the government that caused his death would be wrong. Swartz had depression and this depression could have possibly provoked his death. Swartz’s underlying mental illness was not discussed before or after Swartz’s death.
Overall Swartz’s suicide has caused us to question two things: the way activism, as a whole, is portrayed to the public and further treated by the local authorities; the way that depression is portrayed and treated by the individual and their loved ones.