Matt Hughes, a freelance writer who wrote about gaming for sites like GamesRadar, Joystiq, and Mac|Life, passed away on Tuesday in Commerce, Michigan.
Hughes sent out an e-mail to several of the editors he had worked with at those sites. He said he would no longer be able to contribute or take on more freelance assignments because he would be dead.
Some of those editors thought he might be joking, or that some prankster had hacked his e-mail account. But GamesRadar editor Sophia Tong said in the e-mail thread that she had called up the police station in Hughes’s town and heard back that he had killed himself.
“I didn’t know him personally — he’d been writing for me for the last four weeks or so, and our emails had only really been about work. But in my limited interactions with him, I thought him to be very enthusiastic about taking on new opportunities, and he had been building a really impressive freelance career. His writing was great. That’s part of why this seems so remarkably sudden. There weren’t any red flags at all,” said Andrew Hayward, games/apps editor at Mac|Life.
Α review of 007 Legends for Joystiq is one of Hughes’ most recent pieces.
“We did a bit of voice chat when he reviewed Orcs Must Die 2 for us. The one thing I do know is that he was a pleasure to work with. He was professional and courteous, which goes a long way. He just did a review for us a week ago, and this was a complete shock. I certainly never felt any bad vibes from him,” said Joystiq reviews editor Richard Mitchell.
After the event became known, many writers tweeted to eulogize Hughes and offer condolences to his friends and family. “In honor of @MottHoos, if you ever feel like you’re totally alone, you’re not. Please reach out to ANYONE. Even a weirdo like me. We care,” wrote tech writer Ashley Esqueda.
“It’s extremely blindsiding,” Andrew Hayward said.
Games writer Phil Owen, another person who attempted to take his own life, wrote to Kotaku to share his thoughts (couldn’t link to story, Kotaku was down — will do as soon as it’s up). While we don’t exactly know what happened and pushed Hughes down this route, if it was indeed a suicide, Owen’s story shows it might have been due to depression.
Phil Owen’s mail to Kotaku reads:
“We exist in a culture that, despite all the scientific knowledge we have on the subject, tries to suppress discussions of depression. A lot of people simply do not want to talk about it, even though more than 38,000 people committed suicide in the United States in 2010. As you are reading this right now, someone, somewhere in the US is probably in the process of killing him- or herself.
Unfortunately, many people who suffer from depression feel as if they cannot speak about it. In my past, there have been instances in which my superiors explicitly told me not to talk about my mental illness at work or even tweet about it. But it goes beyond the workplace, too. A Vietnam veteran once brushed off my depression, telling me that since I’ve not had to fight in a war, I have never had anything remotely resembling a truly bad day.
I have, at times, felt like I had no chance to speak out about what was going on in my head, and so it came as little surprise that when I finally admitted to my mother is year that I had been suicidal for a large chunk of my life, she was completely caught off guard. The problem was not that she didn’t pay attention. The problem was that I learned to hide my condition from most people very well.
But hiding doesn’t solve anything; rather, it creates more issues. As anyone who has dealt with depression can attest, being alone in your own head when a bad spell hits is the worst feeling in the world. Sufferers have to know they can share their feelings with others, but we do a bad job of letting them do that.”
We all grieve for mister Hughes, although we never knew him personally, but at times like these there’s nothing else you can do. Our condolences go out to his friends and family, and hope they have the strength to endure the loss. May he rest in peace.