Why Ernest Hemingway Committed Suicide

Ernest Hemingway was an American novelist and short story writer who wrote about the human struggle for dignity. Despite his success, he committed suicide on July 21st, 1961 because of depression; in a note to his wife he said: “I have done what I could do.” The words echo how we all feel sometimes when our strength is no longer enough.

Ernest Hemingway committed suicide at the age of 61. He was a war veteran and had been suffering from depression for years. His life was filled with pain and loss, so he took his own life to end the pain. Read more in detail here: how old was ernest hemingway when he died.

Ernest Hemingway black and white photo.

Above: In his 20s, Hemingway accidentally pulled a skylight onto his head, leaving a permanent welt that lasted the rest of his life; it was also one of many serious concussions he suffered over the years, which may have resulted in a traumatic brain injury, which could explain some of his erratic and volatile behavior, as well as precipitate his eventual suicide.

Suicide always raises the question “Why?” This is particularly true when the individual who performs the act seems to have so much to live for.

Ernest Hemingway is one example of this. Why would someone “whom many critics call the greatest writer of his century, a man who had a zest for life and adventure as big as his genius, a Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winner, a soldier of fortune with a home in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, where he hunted in the winter, an apartment in New York, a specially rigged yacht to fish the Gulf Stream, an available apartment at the Ritz in Paris and the Gritti in Venice” do something like

While no one can ever provide a definitive answer to a topic like this, given the intricacy of mental health and the passage of time, there are various conceivable reasons.

What we do know is that Ernest Hemingway was suffering mentally and physically at the conclusion of his life. Malaria, dysentery, skin cancer, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol had plagued him throughout his life, and these ailments had taken their toll. He’d also had six significant, mostly untreated concussions (two in consecutive years), which had left him with migraines, mental fogginess, ringing in his ears, and a traumatic brain damage.

He was nearly killed in two separate plane crashes in two days several years before his suicide, which ruptured his liver, spleen, and kidneys, sprained several limbs, dislocated his shoulder, crushed vertebra, left first-degree burns over much of his body, and cracked his skull, giving him one of the aforementioned concussions (this one so severe that cerebral fluid seeped out of his ear). For a long time following, he was in excruciating discomfort, which he managed by drinking even more excessively than normal.

Hemingway also suffered from untreated hemochromatosis, a condition in which an excess of iron in the blood causes excruciating damage to joints and organs, as well as liver cirrhosis, heart disease, diabetes, and depression. (Hemochromatosis runs in Hemingway’s family, which may explain why his grandparents, father, brother, sister, and granddaughter all committed themselves.)

In addition to his physical degeneration, Hemingway suffered from sadness, delusion, and paranoia in the months leading up to his death, which his friends and family had never witnessed before (perhaps as a result of his TBI). He discovered he couldn’t write anymore, and the loss of the capacity to participate in his life’s major mission brought him to tears. He was sent to the hospital twice for psychiatric therapy, although he believed the electroshock treatments hampered his writing and worsened his despair.


Hemingway stated he needed to go inside his residence to collect a few possessions before departing for his second stint in the hospital. He was accompanied by a nurse, a doctor, and pals, who had to keep an eye on him at all times to make sure he didn’t hurt himself. However, as soon as he opened the door, he rushed straight to his weaponry, chambered a round in a shotgun, and was only prevented from killing himself by a buddy tackling and physically holding him. He attempted to walk into a whirling propeller before boarding the aircraft. He tried to leap out of the plane twice while it was in flight.

A day and a half after coming home from the hospital, Hemingway shot himself in the head. 

While we’ll never know why Hemingway killed himself, it’s apparent that he suffered from physical and mental decline in the years and months preceding up to his death, and that he was unwell at the time he pulled the gun.


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Ernest Hemingway committed suicide by jumping out of a plane. The reason for his death is unknown, but some believe it was because he felt like he had nothing left to live for. Reference: ernest hemingway plane crash.

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