Several sources are reporting that SF author F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre appears to have committed suicide last week by setting his apartment on fire. Fortunately no one else seems to have been seriously hurt, though a neighbor was treated for smoke inhalation.
This is the flip side of the romanticized ideal of the brilliantly insane or dramatically miserable writer. In reality, depression isn’t glamorous and suicide isn’t glorious. They plague our community and steal our friends and colleagues. I have known many writers who are truly and genuinely afraid that treating their mental illness will destroy their creativity. Since they would rather be dead than unable to write, they take the risk and suffer the sorrows, and tragedies like this one play out over and over again.
I also know many writers who have gotten treatment for depression and found that they become more creative because the illness isn’t sapping their energy and willpower. It can take a long time to find the right treatment, and no treatment is guaranteed to work, but success is very possible, and so is a long productive creative happy life.
If you’re worried about yourself or someone else being a suicide risk, call a suicide hotline and talk to someone who can help you get the support you need. Take a chance on kicking that stereotype of the gloomy, isolated, hard-drinking (self-medicating) writer and finding something better. If not for yourself, do it for your friends and colleagues… and your neighbors.