Ten years ago today, one of the most unique, badass humans of all time chose to end his own life. Hunter S. Thompson lived harder than anyone and sadly extinguished his own flame. As a Sophomore in high school, a kid who felt different and strange discovered a powerful man who encouraged living life till it burst at the seams. I’m that kid and Hunter S. Thompson was the man. Never in my life had I ever seen anything like him. Booze fueled, with cigarette dangling from his lip, Thompson left an astounding first impression on anyone who read his work.
As a 16 year old living in the years when I thought I was wild, I was totally blown away by this mysterious entity that wrote incredible stories and did ungodly amounts of drugs without a second thought. HST became my idol, someone to look to as both a writer and adventurer.
The concept of Gonzo shattered all formal beliefs I had of what it meant to be an investigative journalist. When I found Hunter Thompson, I found what I wanted to do in my life. None of the questionnaires or career surveys at school had Gonzo Journalism as a choice. The thought of immersing yourself and becoming a part of the subject struck me hard and investigative journalism remains my career choice to this day.
As I looked more deeply into Thompson’s personal life, I discovered that he was dead. He had killed himself at his ranch in Colorado on February 20, 2005. I was angry that I hadn’t discovered him before he died, as if it would make his work different to me. The thought of such a free spirit with such talent taking their own life was something I couldn’t easily digest.
As I’ve sat and thought about the impact he’s had on me, I feel so happy that he lived his full throttle life, but so sad that he chose to end it. He’s yet another sad addition to the list of reasons suicide shouldn’t be ignored.
I doubt any literary figure will ever have the impact Hunter S. Thompson has had on me. Through his stories of crazy adventures, I almost feel like I’ve become friends with him. If he were alive today I would write him and make sure he knew. The beautiful thing is, even ten years after his tragic end, his work is still so impactful to most everyone who reads it.
So everyone raise a glass to the King of Gonzo, the wildest man that ever lived. RIP Hunter S Thompson
Stay weird my friends.