• Death

Famous Suicide Notes That Could've Been Tweeted

In Hamlet, Shakespeare told us "brevity is the soul of wit," but he probably wasn't talking about Sad Keanu memes on Twitter - the social media juggernaut with a character limit of 140. Every day, users around the world tear their hair out in an effort to share their latest Tweet with an economy of letters, numbers, and symbols. These famously brief suicide notes condensed the writers’ last words in 140 meager characters or less. Most were written well before the dawn of social media, but in terms of word count, they could pass modern-day muster. 

  • Pulp Writer Robert E. Howard

    "All fled - all done, so lift me on the pyre; The feast is over, and the lambs expire." 

    1930s pulp writer Robert E. Howard was best known for creating one of the fantasy genre's greatest sword and sorcery heroes, Conan the Barbarian. He was also known to suffer from tuberculosis and major depression, which his small magazine earnings and the failing health of his mother exacerbated.

    On the morning of June 11, 1936, as his mother slipped into a coma, Howard pounded out a few final words on his typewriter - borrowed lines of poetry from “The House of Caesar.” He then shot himself.

  • Comedian Freddie Prinze

    "I must end it. There's no hope left. I'll be at peace. No one had anything to do with this. My decision totally." 

    1970s stand-up comedian Freddie Prinze was probably best known for playing Chico, the upbeat, positive half of the TV odd couple Chico and The Man. Behind the scenes, he struggled with depression and drug addiction, both of which reportedly affected his relationships with his wife and infant son, Freddie Prinze, Jr. 

    On January 28, 1977, at age 22, Prinze shot himself in front of his business manager. Police found the note left in his hotel room. For a time, the incident was thought to be the result of a Russian Roulette stunt gone wrong, and a civil court case regarding insurance payouts later considered the death an accident.

  • Poet John Berryman

    Photo: Tom Berthiaume / via Poets.org / Fair Use

    "I am a nuisance." 

    John Berryman was a well-known poet in the mid-20th century who often wrote about the temptation to self-mutilate. His father's suicide during his childhood heavily influenced his poetry. On January 5, 1972, he jumped off the Washington Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis, MN, at age 57.

    Reportedly, his wife later found his suicide note in the trash, written on the back of an envelope.

  • Poet Vachel Lindsay

    Photo: Victor George / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    "They tried to get me - I got them first." 

    Vachel Lindsay was an early 20th-century American poet who popularized a speak-singing style of verse emphasizing sound and rhythm over meaning. He intended his works to be sung, as opposed to simply read. On December 5, 1931, he left a brief message before he drank a bottle of Lysol.