— written in Bologna

Hear this. I once was in one those smokey bars in Berlin. Techno was pumping and energized by it I moved to the bar displaying my best John-Wayne walk impression, like a sort of suburban peacock. All this to try my luck with the waitress. Before reaching the bar, on one of the swings hanging from the ceiling, I saw a young man, eyes down on a notebook. I could see the existential pain in his posture and the fragility of the entire mankind in his shaky hands. Of course — He was an artist.

Oh, artists! Irresistibly impulsive masters of destiny. And actors! Fascinating beasts lost in their roles to the point of not being able to find the way back to reality. And musicians, directors, and of course… Writers! Gentle souls worn out by words, consumed by cigars and soaked in alcohol to the tips of their souls.

C’mon, say it! You are not going to?

Ok, I will: Writers are a bunch of flaming weirdos!

And you know what? Now even science confirms it.

A scientific study published in 2012 has monitored for decades 1.2 million Swedes in search of a link between creativity and mental illness. It turns out that authors have a probability of committing suicide that is 50% higher than that of any normal individual.

Swedes are crazy, man!

OK, fair point. But I must emphasize that also more recent studies — conducted by other research groups and on different populations — seem to confirm this link.

So… No. It is not just the Swedes. 

“Relax, this won’t hurt”
— From Hunter S. Thompson‘s suicide note

If you are a writer then know that sooner or later you may need to deal with your suicidal tendency — That 50% figure that hangs on you like a half sword of Damocles, sort of like the artist I saw on the swing in Berlin.

Now, you are a writer, right? Therefore creative, visionary even — You are able to create anything. It should not be that hard for you to devise an epic way to depart.

Perhaps jumping into 50 tons of molten iron? Walking into the Olympic flame? Stepping into a tiger’s den? … the list continues here

Wait! I do not have time for this!

I know, I know. We are writers, we already have a lot of things to do! We have to: Play with social networks, write blog posts that no one will read, smoke cigars, write thousands and thousands of words. How can we also have time to come up with an epic way to end it all?


Let’s Get inspired by the masters

  • Jack London, despite his revolutionary grandeur and his bipolarity, died with a boring, “unwanted” overdose.
  • Kurt Vonnegut’s recommendation is much more elegant. He tried hard all his life. Through smoking. The author of Slaughterhouse-Five claimed that smoking is a classy way to commit suicide. Ironically, he died after a fall at his home in Manhattan.
  • What about our beloved/hated gonzo journalist, Hunter S. Thompson? He must have something juicy to add to this topic. Well… he ended it all in the messiest way, by shooting himself in the head.
  • Sylvia Plath’s suicide is far more elaborate. Gas, towels, and head in the oven.
  • Virginia Woolf’s Ouse river must have been very cold, but clearly effective. She was found drowned with stones in her pockets.
  • And Yukio Mishima… respect, man! He committed Seppuku — A Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment. Somebody else, a certain Hiroyasu Koga, completed the ritual by beheading… his corpse.

Ernst Toller, Stefan Zweig, Ernest Hemingway, the list of famous suicidal authors to draw inspiration from is very long. You have no excuses!

But before you give in to your destiny and bask in the pleasures of eternity, there is one simple thing left to do: keep writing. 

Fight with the unexpected folds of the plot, argue day and night with your characters, deliver a great story, and finally shine like the glorious victor in the sublime club of timeless authors.

Then and only then, dear suicidal writer, you are allowed to go ahead.

That 50% chance is with you.

Disclaimer: Of course, I am not suggesting that you really kill yourself. Or am I?
I took the “Lonely beer” photo during my trip to Amman, Jordan.
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Phaedrus’ Journey

by Arturo Robertazzi

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