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Thread: Writers' Suicides

  1. #16
    biting writer
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    Quote Originally Posted by dfloyd View Post
    than those of other professions, as alluded to by the poster. For example, Hemingway committed suicide after receiving several electric shock treatments of which he wasn't apprised of beforehand. While he was a noted drinker of alcohol, from which his health issues may have stemmed, he didn't kill him self because he was high strung. Today, he would never be treated in such a manner.

    Virginia Woolf was schizophrenic and had started to hear voices in her head just prior to her drowning. Agiain, modern treatment could have possibly saved her life.

    These are only two off the lists provided, but I suspect there are more than a few who suffered health problems which today could be more successfully treated.
    One, I myself do not think much of the idea that creativity necessarily attracts the mentally ill, or those prone to act on suicidal impulses, any more than any other field, but it remains current, despite Plath receding into history, that writers, especially poets, are more unstable than the general populace, and Woolf was never diagnosed with schizophrenia. The literature I have read suggests bipolar disorder, which is consistent with her writings for those who bother to study them.

    Peter is also off in left field with his cancer thesis. Thompson crippled himself and was in a lot of pain, and that holds true for Hemingway as well, insofar as the biographical detail holds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dfloyd View Post
    I know he had had multiple electric shock treatments to the brain shortly before his death. Can you give me your source for claiming he had cancer? In 1962, I read as many of his obituaries as I could, but never read where he had cancer or was being treated for it.
    http://www.americanwriters.org/writers/hemingway.asp
    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/FAQ/7481

    I was aware that he had cancer since way back, but it does not appear in many articles about him. Most places just mention the shock treatments he got at Mayo. I won't write what I think happened, because I don't remember the details clearly.

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jozanny View Post
    Peter is also off in left field with his cancer thesis. Thompson crippled himself and was in a lot of pain, and that holds true for Hemingway as well, insofar as the biographical detail holds.
    He seemed too much a cranky cynic to take his life because of depression. But a pragmatic choice in the face of incurable lung-cancer sounds about right.
    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1347724/posts

    And there are other sources. The official bio says that he had "many painful and chronic medical conditions," and I believe that similar wording was used in the bio by Jann Wenner, et Als.

    I just post a couple of links about Hemingway having had cancer. If you wish to believe that Hemingway and Thompson had other medical problems, that's your business.

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    Because these writers are relatively well-known to us, we may think that writing as a profession has an inordinate number of suicides. But one would have to calculate the total number of writers committing suicide against the number of suicides in the general population, that is if you could actually calculate the exact numbers of writers who have ever existed. And what defines a person as a "writer"-- only those who make their living in that fashion or everyone who writes?

    As for yours truly (a writer by the looser definition), I tell my friends that they never have to worry about my committing hari-kari. That's because when I look in my closet, I never find any clothes that I'd want to be caught dead in.

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by AuntShecky View Post
    As for yours truly (a writer by the looser definition), I tell my friends that they never have to worry about my committing hari-kari. That's because when I look in my closet, I never find any clothes that I'd want to be caught dead in.
    There's an easy way around that. You could slay yourself in the nude, which would save the clothes from being stained, if you did do hari kari.

  6. #21
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    sixsmith et al:

    Levi's case seems interestly problematic, as, although I am generalizing, suicide doesn't seem the norm for Holocaust survivors, but I'll have to do some reading.

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    For a good assessment of Poe's life, including his enigmatic final days, I recommend Arthur Hobson Quinn's comprehensive biography.

    As for other writers and poets;
    • Michael Dorris (under a rather unfavorable cloud of suspicion, 1997)
    • Robert Gould Fletcher (1950)
    • James Robert Baker (1997)
    • Sarah Kane (1999)
    • Malcolm Lowry (1957)
    • Sara Teasdale, (1933)
    • Vachel Lindsay (1931)
    And some non-English writers too:
    • Manuel Acuna (Mexican poet, 1873)
    • Akutagawa Ryunosuke (Japanese novelist, 1927)
    • Jean Amery (Austrian writer, 1978)
    • Gérard de Nerval (French writer, 1855)
    • May Ayim (German author, 1996)
    • Penelope Delta (Greek poet, 1941)
    • Kostas Karyotakis (Greek poet and writer, 1928)
    • Marina Tsvetaeva (Russian poet, 1941)
    • Jerzy Kosinski (Polish-American writer, 1991)
    • Karin Boye (Swedish writer, 1941)
    • Dazai Osamu (Japanese novelist, 1948)
    • Stefan Zweig (Austrian novelist, 1942)
    Last edited by Mudge; 05-10-2010 at 05:08 PM.
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    I had a feeling it was true that writers have a habbit of offing themselves, looks like I was right. Could be because we think more then normal people. Then again with so many people writing, and so many people who off themselves, there may be nothing to it. But I'd say those who write tend to be a bit off their rocker as apposed to those who don't.
    "We are animals with problems that no other animal has." - Radam J. Starkiller

  9. #24
    Registered User sixsmith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Babbalanja View Post
    I agree with lallison, a lot of these aren't suicide in the strictest sense. Poe? Come on.


    Probable why?

    I recall reading that people who knew Levi doubted it was a suicide. For a celebrated author, not leaving a suicide note is pretty suspicious. And since Levi was chemistry-savvy, he probably could have come up with a more reliable way to check out than falling down stairs.

    Regards,

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    Quote Originally Posted by AuntShecky View Post
    Because these writers are relatively well-known to us, we may think that writing as a profession has an inordinate number of suicides. But one would have to calculate the total number of writers committing suicide against the number of suicides in the general population, that is if you could actually calculate the exact numbers of writers who have ever existed. And what defines a person as a "writer"-- only those who make their living in that fashion or everyone who writes?
    According to an article I read some years back, some 80% of Americans (though I have no doubt the numbers would be similar around these parts as well) feel they deserve that distinction…regardless of whether they’ve ever put pen to paper; the talent, they feel, is latent. Ah, now if only they’d all jump off a cliff…

  11. #26
    Registered User Sebas. Melmoth's Avatar
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    Poe went on a drinking binge after he was refused in a marriage proposal.
    He was found insensible, hospitalized, and died some hours later.
    Suicide by alcohol (à la Leaving Las Vegas).
    See Ken Silverman's critical bio:
    http://www.amazon.com/Edgar-Poe-Mour...3579122&sr=1-1

  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mudge View Post
    [*]Akutagawa Ryunosuke (Japanese novelist, 1927)[*]Gérard de Nerval (French writer, 1855)[*]Stefan Zweig (Austrian novelist, 1942)[/list]
    Mudge: good call on Zweig, de Nerval, and Akutagawa--all quite significant authors.

  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolte View Post
    I had a feeling it was true that writers have a habbit of offing themselves, looks like I was right. Could be because we think more then normal people. Then again with so many people writing, and so many people who off themselves, there may be nothing to it. But I'd say those who write tend to be a bit off their rocker as apposed to those who don't.
    Naw. But it can be said that writers are more in touch with the realities of life - even the darker and more stark realities of life, human nature, and such. They are in touch with these things becasue a good writer observes the deeper truths of life, often unflinchingly. They stare down many of these truths becasue only by being in touch with such truths can a writer convey some of those things accurately in his/her writing.


    For the OP, and anyone else interested in this topic, there is a book called The Van Gogh Blues that deals with creative people and depression

  14. #29
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    The idea that Poe died from alcohol is absurd.

    Snodgrass was convinced that Poe died from alcoholism and did a great deal to popularize this idea. He was a supporter of the temperance movement and found Poe a useful example in his temperance work. However, Snodgrass's writings on the topic have been proven untrustworthy.[2] Moran contradicted Snodgrass by stating in his own 1885 account that Poe did not die under the effect of any intoxicant. Moran claimed that Poe "had not the slightest odor of liquor upon his breath or person".[2]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_o...Cause_of_death
    In an analysis almost 147 years after his death, doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center believe that writer Edgar Allan Poe may have died as a result of rabies, not from complications of alcoholism. Poe's medical case was reviewed by R. Michael Benitez, M.D., a cardiologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center. His review is published in the September 1996 issue of Maryland Medical Journal.
    http://www.umm.edu/news/releases/news-releases-17.htm

    http://www.eapoe.org/geninfo/poedeath.htm

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    Alcohol poisoning seems to be a common method.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...hrough_alcohol

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