Today I lost a friend and an inspiration to suicide. He was an inventor, creator, instigator, and innovator. But for reasons we can only really speculate about and guess at, he decided to choose an ending for himself rather than a future.
Every time the entrepreneurial community processes news of suicide, we decide it is finally time to deal with this issue and come up with solutions.
Originally posted as a comment on AVC
We never really get very far in that particular conversation, even though it is brought up every time we lose another young high profile developer. It helps when people like Ben Huh step up and tell personal stories to demystify and demarginalize entrepreneurial depression. As a community, we still do not have enough tools and resources and shared stories to prevent losses like this. While we will probably never bring a complete end to suicide, hopefully we can get better at supporting our own and learning how to step in and step up for each other.
The entrepreneurial road is extremely tough. It is far too simple to glorify swimming against the stream and seeing what others cannot see and persevering through years of hardship to come out the other end a winner. Yet we are required to keep our game face on, convincing everyone around us that the future is bright and we have a winner on our hands. The people around us we probably most need to lean on for support and encouragement of our own, are often the people who are relying on us to ‘keep the faith’ for them. And showing any fear or weakness to those people can feel like a non-option.
I don’t know the ultimate solution. But my own small attempt to address this issue in my life and in the companies I advise, is to make sure there is at least one mentor/advisor/friend who is allowed to hear all the fears, all the frustration, any moments of hopelessness… who have opted in to be the listener and encourager (and whose life would not be directly impacted by a business failure). Maybe if more entrepreneurs had this as a habit and common practice we would lose less bright minds to despair.
I did know Aaron. We had multiple conversations which impacted the trajectory of my career. I was not a close friend, and I do not know what was going through his mind these last few days (weeks?) (months?). But I am angry and sad that we lost him.