Franklin James Cook

Poet Sylvia Plath’s Son Dies by Suicide in Alaska at Age 47

In Grief, People on March 23, 2009 at 8:57 am
Sylvia Plath and her son Nicholas

Sylvia Plath and her son Nicholas

[Editor’s note: The stories linked to below include brief descriptions of suicide.]

The well-known depression and suicide of poet Sylvia Plath in 1963 has been grievously followed this week by the suicide of her son Nicholas Hughes, 47, an evolutionary biologist in Alaska.

A statement by Hughes’s sister, Frieda Hughes, is quoted in a story in the [London] TimesOnline,

“It is with profound sorrow that I must announce the death of my brother, Nicholas Hughes, who died by his own hand on Monday 16th March 2009 at his home in Alaska. He had been battling depression for some time.”

The TimesOnline story covers Plath’s legacy, including her literary career, her struggle with mental illness, and her marriage to Ted Hughes, who became England’s Poet Laureate. It also includes an insightful observation from Paul Farmer, who directs Mind, a U.K. mental health charity.

“Suicide is a much more complicated event than simply being a question of genetics, but there is some evidence that if a member of your family has taken their life there can be a higher risk of people doing the same. However, it is often absolutely to do with what’s happening in the here and now rather than any urge that is more deeply rooted.”

There is also a story in the New York Times about Nicholas Hughes and his family.

[The abridged URL for this post is http://tinyurl.com/PlathSonDies .]

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