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The hacker community has lost too many people to suicide recently — Florian Hufsky, Ilya Zhitomirskiy, Len Sassaman, and surely more I don't know about. A lot of the problem is that people feel that if they talk about it, or ask for help, they'll be seen as somehow weaker.

I'd like to say that's not true. I have nothing but the deepest respect for the people who did this panel, both professionally and personally. For that matter, I too have long dealt with severe depression; it has gotten a lot better over time, but it's something I still cope with regularly.

I know that many of you and your friends have, too. Please take a moment to share this post and let your friends know — either what you've been through, or simply that you're available if they want to talk.

Like coming out about being queer, being open about this makes us as individuals and as a community stronger. It's OK to ask for help, even if you're not actively in crisis or suicidal. A lot of us have been through that, or are now; you're not alone in feeling alone. Please talk about it.

I've put up a page of helpline info at http://saizai.com/suicide.shtml for more resources, and freenode #bluehackers is a place you can hang out and talk.


Thank you +dara v, +Jimmie Rodgers, +Meredith L. Patterson, Michael Zeltner, and +mitch altman for your courage in doing this panel discussion at #28C3 about geeks and depression. It's an important topic, and I hope this helps make things get better.
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Christoph Maier's profile photoSingularity Utopia's profile photoJames Alexander's profile photoSai (saizai)'s profile photo
8 comments
 
I'm not sure if this is a cultural misfit thing. Suicide rates tend to be higher in circles which put undue stress to succeed on an intellectually taxing level - no stats on it, but just a general observation going back to school days. And sufficient peer pressure in the not-too-shabby middle class to let others know the world is okay... Things like employment hang on that too, which is significantly different from a minority queer support group. Lack of trust and personal trauma often make it even more difficult to help.
 
I would say, having grown up as one of the smart misfit kids, that it its a combination of the two - pressure to succeed as well as social isolation in the physical world. Being the IT girl in a mainstream office for a year really drove home to me how fortunate I had been to work in mostly geek workplaces. It was like being a combination of a necessary service provider and complete outsider. Very isolating, and I was quite lucky to have a lively social life with peers outside of work.
 
powerful and amazing thread:) Thanks for sharing!
 
I'm not a hacker but I am technically in clinical depression and have been so for upwards of twelve years. It is sometimes frustrating because I know I'm missing out. It's also of inconvenience in getting places as apparent platitude seldom ignites motivation in others. I knew since the beginning that there was a biochemical factor involved despite contrary affirmations from professionals. I highly advise going through online lectures by Robert Sapolsky whose work has highlighted the ill-understood mechanisms in stress, depression and other related ailments. I am currently in a much better state than I used to be and this is thanks in part to a bit of self-experimentation. At the moment, I am looking into link that seems to exist between neurological conditions and deficiencies in dopamine. Overall, I'm convinced that the a new profession could see the day where a person could offer guidance in terms of habits, thought patterns, diet, activity and personal environment to help a patient. Imo, this would offer superior results as the combination of these aspects are often neglected.
 
Hi,

Just thought I'd post back here. It turned out that my depression was due to anxiety.

I tested some psilocybine after reading about it's potentially beneficial effects and I've been much better since.

Not a 100% ideal but liveable :)
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