Friends and colleagues of Will H. Moore, a professor of political science at Arizona State University, were shocked and saddened Wednesday to read an apparent suicide note posted to his personal blog. A university spokesperson confirmed late Wednesday that Moore had taken his life that morning.
“Assuming I did not botch the task, by the time this posts I will have been dead via suicide for several hours. Nope, that’s not a setup to a joke,” Moore wrote. “Why would someone who is healthy, employed, has every outside appearance of success and so on, take their own life? In my case the answer is simple enough: I was done, but my body wasn’t. But that answer isn’t satisfying, so, for those who are aggrieved, upset, saddened, etc., let me do my best to try to explain.”
Moore said that he’d enjoyed every “conceivable advantage a human might hope for” and “lived a rich, rewarding life of which I am, I confess, quite proud.” Yet he described never quite growing out of his “misfit” childhood identity and feeling grave discomfort with everyday social interactions. “Far too often I angered, insulted, offended and otherwise upset people, without expecting or intending to,” he wrote, elsewhere noting that he was on the autism spectrum. “I rarely felt that I was successful explaining my ideas, perceptions, understandings to others.”
Anticipating arguments that he had “so much to live for,” Moore wrote that he had many hobbies, from reading novels to hiking. They all provided limited pleasure, however, in that “they are consumption,” he said. And to “feel good about myself -- to be able to look myself in the mirror -- I needed to produce. I learned long ago that producing something I found useful/valuable did not mean anyone else would see it as useful/valuable. One must market it: show others its use/value. And that may seem straightforward, but it isn’t.”
Moore said he’d first considered suicide when he was a teenager, but quickly learned that it was “taboo” and therefore not to be discussed. His suicidal thoughts retreated when he had children, but they eventually returned. Saying that “perhaps some of you who are hurting will find something useful here,” Moore thanked “each and every one of you who interacted with me, in person and/or virtually, and especially those who I interacted with frequently and came to know.” He ultimately implored readers to “Go hug somebody!”
Arizona State in a statement sent “deepest and heartfelt condolences” to Moore’s family, describing him as a “respected, valued member of our faculty, who was engaged in multiple endeavors within and outside the university, and was beloved by his students.” Moore’s “relentless pursuit of knowledge in the field of politics and human rights contributed to volumes of insightful research to help us better understand the world around us,” it said. “The knowledge and passion Will imparted on his students, colleagues and many others is one of his legacies and will live on for decades to come.”
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a free, confidential 24-7 service that can provide people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress, or those around them, with support, information and local resources. 1-800-273-TALK (8255).