A Valuable Lesson

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I have a decidedly not Kind of a Funny Story to report today – young adult author and overall really brilliant guy Ned Vizzini died on Thursday. He committed suicide.

Of course I’m sad, but I’m also very angry.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story is a semi-autobiographical novel based on Vizzini’s own experiences facing crippling depression and time in a mental facility. In an interview with an online mental-health community for young adults, StrengthOfUs.org, Vizzini said the following:

Three things helped me most in recovering from depression and suicidal thoughts:

  1. My parents. I did not want to make them ask the questions that they would ask themselves if I killed myself.
  2. My retirement account. I have  money that I can’t access before age 59 ½ without facing tax penalties. I want to live long enough to get this money.
  3. It’s Kind of a Funny Story. I wrote a book about overcoming suicide and depression, so if I killed myself now it would be dumb. (bold emphasis is mine.)

It was dumb. He had so, so, so much talent and such a gift for making his characters flawed and lovely and realistic. I’m terribly sad at his death, and furious that he’s deprived us, his wife and child, and the world of his presence and future works, not to mention his humanity.

The lesson here that we can learn from this stupid, thoughtless loss of talent is this:

If you are feeling depressed, if you feel alone, if you feel helpless, if you want to kill yourself, please don’t. It can and will get better. Please reach out. Get help. Please. There are so many resources: the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, the NSPH’s resource for young adults, You Matter, and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center. Talk to someone. Talk to people you love and who love you.

If one person can find the strength to get help from reading Vizzini’s books or hearing his story, then perhaps his death won’t be such a senseless waste.

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