Aaron Swartz…The Loss of a Genuis

 So sad… 

As an eighth-grader in Winnetka, Illinois, Aaron Swartz showed signs of
the computer wizardry that would lead to his Internet activism and
development of software used by websites worldwide.

But the
Highland Park native who had attended North Shore Country Day School in
Winnetka and as a 13-year-old had created an online public encyclopedia
for a school competition got into trouble as an adult.

He faced trial in April on federal charges that he had illegally
downloaded millions of journal articles from the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology with the intention of posting them to a file-sharing
site.

The prospect of the trial was too much for him, his family
said. Swartz, 26, committed suicide inside his New York apartment,
authorities said Saturday.

In a statement sent through a
spokesman, his family said Swartz hanged himself the day before out of
worry that he faced more than 30 years in federal prison.

“Aaron’s
insatiable curiosity, creativity, and brilliance; his reflexive empathy
and capacity for selfless, boundless love; his refusal to accept
injustice as inevitable — these gifts made the world, and our lives, far
brighter,” the statement in part read.

Along with developing an
early version of rich site summary, or RSS, technology, Swartz is
credited with co-founding the popular Reddit website that allows users
to vote for their favorite news stories of the day.

In a talk in 2007, Mr. Swartz described having had suicidal thoughts
during a low period in his career. He also wrote about his struggle with
depression, distinguishing it from sadness.

“Go outside and get
some fresh air or cuddle with a loved one and you don’t feel any better,
only more upset at being unable to feel the joy that everyone else
seems to feel. Everything gets colored by the sadness.”


If you are someone you know is experiencing suicical ideation, call the
National Suicide Prevention hotline at  1-800-273-8255, the national
GLBT National Youth Talkline at 1-800-246-PRIDE (1-800-246-7743), or The Trevor Project, an organization specifically focused on LGBT people, at 866-488-7386.

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