Another sad story in the news of someone self-destructing. Another case of a talented, highly intelligent, wealthy person unraveling to the point of choosing suicide. As reported in the news, Reddit co-founder and computer genius Aaron Swartz committed suicide recently in his Brooklyn apartment. He was due to face trial in February for a controversial computer hacking case. His death came exactly two years after his arrest on allegations that he breached a computer network to download millions of pages of documents kept at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). He had pleaded not guilty.
Swartz was remembered as a computer genius who at the age of 13 designed his first website. But apparently he had suffered from depression for many years. Depression must be treated, especially when someone is going through a crisis, otherwise the unthinkable can happen, which is what happened in this case. This should never have happened. He was only 26 years old. He lost hope and hopelessness and despair can be deadly.
When I speak to parents about the value of religious beliefs and the benefits of children and adults having a relationship with God, I tell them the importance of prayer for helping children deal with stress, rejection and uncertainty. In the modern world children are exposed to all kinds of horrific news accounts, tragedies and day to day struggles. A relationship with God, believing God is your best friend and someone you can always count on and turn to, in all situations, is crucial for children and adults, now more than ever.
I have no idea what religion Aaron Swartz was, or if spirituality or religion was important to him but I do know that without a deep relationship with God, life can be arduous and difficult at times, especially when someone is going through a crisis. Life must be lived with hope and the certainty that tomorrow can be better.
Last week I spoke to Catholic parents. I stressed the importance of prayer for children, especially attending Mass (for Catholics it's Mass that's important but for those of other religions, their own rituals are equally important). Parents have to keep the lines of communication open, eating dinner as a family is very important and a simple way to achieve that. Simple things are known to make us happier and I gave them a list of those things.
I'm sorry for the grieving family of Aaron Swartz. May he rest in peace. May they gain comfort from the hope that the soul survives bodily death and he is at peace.
UPDATED- I read in NY's Newsday (1/22/13) that Aaron Swartz facing "13 felony charges of computer fraud, was offered a plea deal that would have required a prison term of four to six months, but he staunchly rejected any offer that entailed pleading guility to a felony or serving any time." To think he could have struck a plea deal, spent a few months in jail, and put it behind him and yet he chose suicide instead is just so sad.