Games Reporter Matt Hughes Passes Away In Apparent Suicide

Matt Hughes, a freelancer who wrote about gaming for outlets like GamesRadar, Joystiq and Mac|Life, passed away Tuesday in Commerce, Michigan. On Tuesday, Hughes sent out an email to several of the editors he had worked with at those sites. He said he would no longer be able to contribute or take on more freelance assignments because he would be dead.

Some of those editors thought he might be joking, or that some prankster had hacked his email account. But GamesRadar editor Sophia Tong said in the email thread that she had called up the police station in Hughes’s town and heard back that he had killed himself.

(I reached out to the sheriff’s department in Oakland County, Michigan, this morning and was able to confirm that Hughes passed away on Tuesday.)

By all accounts Hughes was enthusiastic and positive, a talented writer and a pleasant colleague.

“I didn’t know him personally — he’d been writing for me for the last four weeks or so, and our emails had only really been about work,” said Andrew Hayward, games/apps editor at Mac|Life. “But in my limited interactions with him, I thought him to be very enthusiastic about taking on new opportunities, and he had been building a really impressive freelance career. His writing was great. That’s part of why this seems so remarkably sudden. There weren’t any red flags at all.”

One of Hughes’s most recent published pieces was a review of 007 Legends for Joystiq.

“We did a bit of voice chat when he reviewed Orcs Must Die 2 for us,” said Joystiq reviews editor Richard Mitchell. “The one thing I do know is that he was a pleasure to work with. He was professional and courteous, which goes a long way. He just did a review for us a week ago, and this was a complete shock. I certainly never felt any bad vibes from him.”

Many games writers took to Twitter to eulogise Hughes and offer condolences to his friends and family. “In honor of @MottHoos, if you ever feel like you’re totally alone, you’re not. Please reach out to ANYONE. Even a weirdo like me. We care,” wrote tech writer Ashley Esqueda.

“It’s extremely blindsiding,” Hayward said.

When word began to spread about Hughes’ death, games writer Phil Owen, who has written about his own attempt to take his life, wrote to us to share his thoughts. It’s not clear what compelled Hughes to take his life, if that is what happened, but to Owen, the possibility that it could have been due to depression required he say something. So whether this has to do with Matt Hughes or not, we felt compelled to share it. Here’s Phil Owen:

“We exist in a culture that, despite all the scientific knowledge we have on the subject, tries to suppress discussions of depression. A lot of people simply do not want to talk about it, even though more than 38,000 people committed suicide in the United States in 2010. As you are reading this right now, someone, somewhere in the US is probably in the process of killing him- or herself.

“Unfortunately, many people who suffer from depression feel as if they cannot speak about it. In my past, there have been instances in which my superiors explicitly told me not to talk about my mental illness at work or even tweet about it. But it goes beyond the workplace, too. A Vietnam veteran once brushed off my depression, telling me that since I’ve not had to fight in a war, I have never had anything remotely resembling a truly bad day.

“I have, at times, felt like I had no chance to speak out about what was going on in my head, and so it came as little surprise that when I finally admitted to my mother this year that I had been suicidal for a large chunk of my life, she was completely caught off guard. The problem was not that she didn’t pay attention. The problem was that I learned to hide my condition from most people very well.

“But hiding doesn’t solve anything; rather, it creates more issues. As anyone who has dealt with depression can attest, being alone in your own head when a bad spell hits is the worst feeling in the world. Sufferers have to know they can share their feelings with others, but we do a bad job of letting them do that.”

If depression is affecting you or someone you know, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.


Comments

    Kids helpline - 1800 55 1800

      No offense, but I think these might be of more help

      Beyondblue info line - 1300 22 4636
      Lifeline - 13 11 14
      Suicide Helpline (Victoria) - 1300 651 251

    This is honestly terrible, I'm feeling for Matt's friends and family right now.

    The problem with depression is that in a lot of cases, a big part it is a fear of people judging you for how you feel, so a lot of time and energy goes into making sure nobody really know's that something is up. This usually only compounds the problem, making you feel more and more alone until it's unbearable. You just want someone to help but you don't want anyone to know because you convince yourself they won't understand or care. It's a sad and vicious cycle :/

      Yeah, that's it exactly. Don't want people to look at you different too, walk around on egg shells or think you're fragile. This is a horrible story. :'(

      Last edited 02/11/12 11:19 am

    Another issue is that depression is a very broad term, with ranges of severity, and it is not treated as such. People with a mild depression can go their entire life without knowing it, just generally being down at times, but there are people with severe cases who are seriously afflicted.

    When you combine this with how often people self-diagnose themselves as having the condition, and you take away a lot of the legitimacy of the disorder in the general public's perception, which is awfully unfair to those that do legitimately suffer from the condition.

      Mmm... self diagnosis is shamed a fair bit, which can be problematic too. I know many people who needed help who refused to admit they were feeling down, because they were scared that people who had "real depression" would accuse them of poor self-diagnosis or being attention seeking. If someone feels down, they should feel welcome to seek help, no matter how severe.

      Depression can hit anyone, and as it was said in the article, people who suffer it are often very good at hiding it. It's a terrible social stigma that has been formed around it :(

        Also, as crazy as it might sound, I'd wager that some folks want to avoid having stuff like this listed on their medical records -- so fear getting a proper diagnosis. :(

        Last edited 02/11/12 12:11 pm

          you are not wrong. discrimination based on medical records is a genuine fear of many people.

        Yeah, it's because in our society we view depression as a weakness rather than an illness (and no-one more so than the depressive themself), so seeking help can be much more confronting as a result. I know personally it took me many, many years to finally come to terms with that but I am glad I did - as my doc said, "If you were a diabetic, you'd get insulin. That's not a weakness, it's common sense. You need help, you get help. Same with depression." And if anyone is looking for help but unsure if they should, I say DO IT. I spent 20 years of my life under a terrible burden I actually didn't need to be under, and my life is so much better since. So much better. So go see your doctor. Please.

          Actually, to add to the list, I reckon the fact that it's called 'depression' hinders how serious people take it. Like, anyone can be "depressed" about stuff, and I know when I was younger, I just drew the conclusion that having "depression" just meant you were mopey and sad about stuff, not that you had an actual condition. I'd say a lot of people still aren't fully aware there is a difference between having depression, and feeling depressed.

    This is why I do Movember

    I feel like our culture, especially (but not exclusively) as men forbids us form admitting weakness, our instinct to hide our weaknesses doesn't help either. I wish more than anything that we lived in a world were we could all be open and truthful without fearing someone take advantage of us or look down on us.

    Poor guy. I've felt pretty bad my self before so I know how hard it is to tell other people. I hope wherever he is he's in a better place.

    Part of the problem is that admitting you have depression can result in discrimination when applying for insurance policies and health benefits because you're seen as a risk or liability. This would be especially so in America where the health system is largely dependent on employers rather than private medical funds like Australia.

    As has been mentioned a few times, mental illnesses are something that are largely swept under the carpet and seen as something that makes you less of a person so it's no wonder people feel less inclined to be up front about it. Another factor is the feeling that telling anyone is just going to be a burden on them and a pain for you because people's reactions are usually to either start fussing over you and trying to "Cheer you up" or to tell you to stop being a sook and harden up. Neither of which are conducive to making you feel better.

    Males are especially prone to this sort of thing due to the implied rule that "Real men don't eat Quiche". (alt. Real men don't cry) Which is why it always grates on me when there are umpteen billion articles about how women are mistreated in gaming because they are harassed and misogynistic people use derogatory terms and generally make them feel bad. Not once have I ever seen an article take into account the fact that a show of any kind of emotion other than aggression online by a male means you get labelled as "gay", "emo", or a "girl" or some other emasculating term. Outside of your closest friends, saying you've been having a hard time or feeling depressed is generally not going to get you any sympathy or helpful advice.

    The truth is, men have just as many problems, it's just that no one talks about them.

    (Apologies for the slight rant. All kinds of nerves were touched.)

    ROFL, as if anyone can help a person with depression in modern society. Why are we even discussing this?

    Depressed people in their natural state do not emit a happy aura. It’s a dark brooding one with internal conflicts that you wouldn't be interested in. Any depressed person would agree it’s an absolute waste of time and also social suicide to talk to friends and family about 'issues', quite frankly nobody wants to hear negativity. Negativity being the precursor of depression, what a laugh that people are willing to reach out in the final stages of 'deep depression' but not interested in snapping the person out of it in the beginning!

    Common scenario concerning first world problems: 'Oh my, they aren't very happy let’s not hang out with him/her'. It's the sole reason WHY depressed people bury their thoughts and you will be none the wiser. All you want is FUN, HAPPY and OUTGOING, right? So that is exactly what you get.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now