The David Foster Wallace Effect

From 1999 to 2010, the suicide rate among Americans ages 35 to 64 rose by nearly 30 percent.


  1. ” Changes in marriage, social isolation and family roles “…hmmm….

  2. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

    Sure, that’s one way to keep Medicare costs down.

  3. Ahh, the fruits of hedonistic materialism.

  4. David Foster Wallace says

    **Is the real point of my life simply to undergo as little pain and as much pleasure as possible? My behavior sure seems to indicate that this is what I believe, at least a lot of the time. But isn’t this kind of a selfish way to live? Forget selfish — isn’t it awfully lonely?

    **But if I decide to decide there’s a different, less selfish, less lonely point to my life, won’t the reason for this decision be my desire to be less lonely, meaning to suffer less overall pain? Can the decision to be less selfish ever be anything other than a selfish decision?

    **Is it possible to really love other people? If I’m lonely and in pain, everyone outside me is potential relief — I need them. But can you really love what you need so badly? Isn’t a big part of love caring more about what the other person needs? How am I supposed to subordinate my own overwhelming need to somebody else’s needs that I can’t feel directly? And yet if I can’t do this, I’m damned to loneliness, which I definitely don’t want…so I’m back at trying to overcome my selfishness for self-interested reasons. Is there any way out of this bind?

    — Joseph Frank’s Dostoevsky

  5. Santiago says

    I know that you guys don’t mean to say that DFW is the cause of a spike in suicides, but the title of the post is a bit ambiguous.

    • Matthew Lickona says

      Yeah, I hear you. The man fought mightily against his demons.

      • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

        Expecting that he and [artist Karen Green] were going to begin a relationship and determined to start on an honest footing this time, he wrote her a series of letters — Grim Letter I, Grim Letter II, he called them — where he laid out his psychiatric history and his history with women. “I don’t want to be Satan,” he explained. She drew a picture of Satan on him with a Sharpie and at his insistence added the words, “But I mean well.”

        Max, D.T. Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace, Chapter 8.

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