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Sunday 17 December 2017

Author Vizzini, 32, commits suicide

Author Ned Vizzini, who wrote about his struggle with depression, has committed suicide at 32. (AP)
Author Ned Vizzini, who wrote about his struggle with depression, has committed suicide at 32. (AP)

Ned Vizzini, a popular young adult author and television writer who wrote candidly and humorously about his struggles with depression, has committed suicide at 32 by jumping off the roof of his parents' New York City home.

His brother Daniel said he battled mental illness for much of his life and had "taken a turn for the worse" in recent weeks.

Ned Vizzini's autobiographical novel, It's Kind Of A Funny Story, was made into a feature film of the same name.

Living in Los Angeles in recent years, father of one was a prolific author of both fiction and non-fiction and spoke around the US 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," said his long-time publisher Alessandra Balzer, of Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins.

It's Kind Of A Funny Story, praised by The New York Times as "insightful and utterly authentic", was written in just a few weeks and published in 2006. Set in New York City, and 85% true, according to Vizzini, it told of an ambitious but overworked high school student who considers jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge and ends up in a psychiatric ward.

"So why am I depressed?" asks narrator Craig Gilner. "That's the million-dollar question, baby, the Tootsie Roll question; not even the owl knows the answer to that one. I don't know either. All I know is the chronology."

The film version was released in 2010 and starred Keir Gilchrist, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Roberts and Viola Davis.

Vizzini's other books include Be More Chill and The Other Normals, both of which told of young people who felt like outsiders. This year, he and film-maker Chris Columbus debuted a trilogy of young adult fantasy books, House Of Secrets. The second instalment had been completed and is scheduled for March. No decisions have been made about the third book, according to his publisher.

Vizzini also was working on the NBC series Believe, a project co-created by JJ Abrams and Alfonso Cuaron. His other TV writing credits include Teen Wolf and Last Resort. A musical adaptation of Be More Chill has been in the works.

Vizzini grew up in Brooklyn and attended one of New York City's most competitive high schools, Stuyvesant, the basis for the school in It's Kind Of A Funny Story. He had many influences - from Miles Davis to Stephen King - and his writing gift became obvious. As a teenager, an essay he wrote about adolescence was published in The New York Times.

"Although I'm still in the thick of my teenage years, I think I've learned a thing or two by now," he wrote. "And as far as I can tell, being a teenager is just like being a kid, except that you've got five extra niggling concerns: sex, money, smoking, drinking and getting into college."

He did advance, to Hunter College, and by 19 his first book had been released, Teen Angst? Naaah ... A Quasi Autobiography. Over the years his work appeared in The New Yorker, Salon and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Asked once why he wanted to be a writer, he responded: "I knew that I wanted to be a writer because I wanted to do something that had the potential to outlast my own death."

He is survived by his wife and son.


Press Association

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