My heart goes out to Mike Flanagan's family and friends, and I hope that in memorial he is honored and celebrated.
Reading a lot of the coverage the past couple of days, it's bothering me to keep hearing people talk about "reasons" for his death. In most cases, suicide is not a "rational" or "reasonable" decision. Details that have emerged suggest that Flanagan was clinically depressed. Clinical depression is not "feeling sad", it is this unfathomable badness that consumes a person:
You are the sickness yourself.... You realize all this...when you look at the black hole and it's wearing your face. That's when the Bad Thing just absolutely eats you up, or rather when you just eat yourself up. When you kill yourself. All this business about people committing suicide when they're "severely depressed;" we say, "Holy cow, we must do something to stop them from killing themselves!" That's wrong. Because all these people have, you see, by this time already killed themselves, where it really counts.... When they "commit suicide," they're just being orderly.
Think of the old cliché about "the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master." This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in: the head. They shoot the terrible master. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger.
-David Foster Wallace
While life circumstances can encourage the onset of depression or mania, once that black hole appears it is its own thing, and we can't know what it is like, we can't know how terribly the person in the black hole feels. And while we can observe some things about chemicals and genetics, the black hole is still a mystery beyond our comprehension.