Ned Vizzini, Popular YA Author, Commits Suicide at 32

Illustration for article titled Ned Vizzini, Popular YA Author, Commits Suicide at 32

He wrote about depression and thoughts of suicide, humorously chronicling his own struggles with the disease, but the jokes only masked the turmoil inside. On Dec. 19, author Ned Vizzini, 32, committed suicide by jumping from the roof of his parent's Brooklyn home.

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Vizzini was a popular writer; his book It's Kind of a Funny Story was made into a film starring Zach Galifianakis:

Vizzini's comic and autobiographical writing, while still a high school student in New York, drew critical acclaim. More recently he lived in Los Angeles where he wrote for television shows including MTV's "Teen Wolf," and he was working as executive story editor on the upcoming NBC science fiction series "Believe," created by director Alfonso Cuarón, with J.J. Abrams as an executive producer.

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Vizzini often wrote and spoke public about his battles with depression:

A resident of Los Angeles in recent years, he was a prolific author of fiction and nonfiction and spoke around the country about mental health and the healing effects of writing. On his website, he recommended Andrew Solomon's "The Noonday Demon" and the Dalai Lama's "The Art of Happiness" to readers coping with depression.

"At his signings, countless kids would approach him to say that he changed their lives - he gave them hope," his longtime publisher, Alessandra Balzer of Balzer + Bray, said in a statement Friday.

His last Facebook post, from Nov. 28 reads "This Thanksgiving I am thankful for so many things, including running into the real House of Secrets in Los Angeles this year!" The page has been flooded with condolences and messages of support to the family.

Daniel Vizzini, the author's brother, told reporters on Friday his brother had taken a "turn for the worse" in dealing with depression. Vizzini leaves behind a wife and son.

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Image via Ned Vizzini Facebook

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DISCUSSION

anomalopotamus
anomalopotamus

Ned was a friend of mine. Not a close friend, but very much more than just an acquaintance. I first met him through a mutual friend around 2005 in NYC, and knew immediately (like instantly, no exaggeration) that he was one of the most genuine, good-hearted people I'd ever encountered. He just radiated that kind of feeling. Approachable, relatable, open, nonjudgmental. He was a year older than me and had gone to Stuy for high school while I was at BxSci, and we found we had a lot in common and more mutual friends than we'd known. In every conversation, he always listened to everything you had to say and gave the kind of thoughtful responses that left no doubt that he actually cared.

We didn't really keep in touch constantly, but we drifted in and out of each others' spheres over and over and kept up with each others' news on Facebook. Each time we bumped into each other, no matter how much time had passed, and no matter how much more of a successful famous writer he was becoming year by year, he always immediately remembered exactly who I was without having to fumble for my name, and usually even remembered whatever what our most recent conversation had been and asked for updates. The last time I saw him in person was in 2009, when I had been living in LA and he was just moving out there to work on the film adaptation of It's Kind of a Funny Story and make a go at tv writing. This was before he'd gotten married and had a son, so I've never met them, and my heart breaks just thinking about what they must be going through now.

For the life of me I can't remember what we did or what we talked about the few times we hung out before I moved back to the east coast, but I can remember his easy smile as clearly as if I'd just seen him yesterday. What also struck me, as he was getting quite well-known by that point, is how he was honestly surprised at how positively people responded to his work. This was a guy who had been publishing for over a decade already, with great reviews, more and more fans, talent agents seeking him out, and a movie deal in progress, and he was still as genuinely humble as ever. In retrospect, I think this was likely part of his depression; that he was just never able to come to grips with the idea that people loved him and that he truly deserved the good things that were happening in his life.

Watching all the people posting comments on his Facebook wall, I realize he had had this kind of relationship with hundreds, maybe thousands of people, and I'm just absolutely amazed he was able to connect with so many like that, not with a typical celeb/fan dynamic, but with actual real personal relationships that affected people and made them feel valued and understood. He lost his lifetime battle with depression, as simple as that, and anyone who has ever faced the same battle should understand what that's about. Our world is definitely poorer without him.