Aaron Swartz suffered.
He suffered long before the implacable system began to grind him up. He was open about his depression and the pain it caused him. Even the government knew it.
But we don’t want to believe that a person like Aaron Swartz — strong, brilliant, beloved, with hopes and goals and ideals, supported by family and friends — would take his own life despite all those things because of a disease. It is, strangely, less terrifying to think that a cruel government persecution overcame his ability to cope. It’s awful thing, but an notable thing, an unusual thing, not something we imagine happening to us or the people we love. Accepting that the government drove Aaron Swartz to kill himself doesn’t force us to ask this question: what if we gave someone we love everything we have, and they had every reason to live, and it wasn’t enough? What if someone we love were suffering that much, and we didn’t see it?
It’s more comfortable to believe that circumstance drives people to kill themselves. That’s the premise, and we don’t question it. We should. It’s wrong. Depression lies, and depression kills. It kills the forgotten and the cherished alike. It kills rich and poor, genius and dolt, the scattered and the capable. It kills the strong with the weak. It kills people undergoing terrible hardship and people who seem to have everything. It can be killing the person you know and love best in the world and you might not see it.