I never met Aaron Swartz, but he was my brother.

I never met Aaron Swartz, but he was my brother, although much younger than me.
I cannot interpret his suicide. Suicide is never the effect of a single cause, and it is always impossible to “explain” death.
Nevertheless I know something about the causes that pushed Aaron to do what he did.
He was a computer programmer, creator and developer of the web feed format RSS, and a writer, an activist and also a Harvard researcher. Recently he played a prominent role in the SOPA campaign (Stop online piracy act) which had a successful outcome.
Aaron was known – by his friends and by FBI as well - for a history of downloading massive data sets, both to use in research and to release public domain documents from behind paywalls.
In 2008, Swartz downloaded, and released, approximately 20% of the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) database of United States federal court documents managed by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.
According to federal authorities, over the course of a few weeks in late 2010 and early 2011 Swartz, having a JSTOR personal account as a research fellow at Harvard University, downloaded a large number of academic journal articles via JSTOR.
JSTOR is a digital archive comprising over one thousand academic journals, and like most other academic databases, it is a pay-per-access provider. Its annual subscription fees can reach $50,000 while the download of a single article ranges between $19 and $39. But price is not the only restriction to access. JSTOR only accepts subscriptions from institutions. Any independent researcher without an institutional affiliation or with a precarious or irregular one is automatically denied access.
As Ana Teixeira Pintoexplains (In memory of Aaron Swartz, e-flux journal 01/2013) academic paywalls are a form of privatization of knowledge and a form of exploitation of precarious cognitive work: neither the authors nor the reviewers of those articles that companies like JSTOR are selling are paid: texts published by these databases are generally supported by public funding, and often are the product of voluntary unpaid work. Furthermore many universities can’t afford the subscription costs, or limit access within their own university to specific research groups and institutes. On January 6, 2011, Aaron was arrested near the Harvard campusby two MIT Police officers and a U.S. Secret Service agent on state charges of breaking and entering a building with intent to commit a felony. According to Attorney Carmen Ortiz who has been the zealous prosecutor “If convicted on these charges Swartz faces up to 35 years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, restitution, forfeiture and a fine of up to $1 million.”
I don’t know why Aaron decided to do what he did on January 11th 2013 – but I know that he was under prosecution for doing what we should do every day: giving back to the cognitive workers what private companies steal from them.  Aaron has acted according to a widely shared principle: property laws are illegitimate in the field of knowledge, and the new reality of digital production is blatantly at odds with privatization.
That said I think that I have not yet reached the crucial point. Those who have persecuted Aaron for the sake of private profits, those who have haunted him and threatened him of prison and millionaire fines, say that Aaron has killed himself because he was the victim of depression. That is false in their mouth. But it is true.
The same day I got the news about Aaron I received a call from a friend who was upset because of the suicide of the young friend of his daughter – a young man 22 years old who was diagnosed as victim of depression and panic crises.
Suicide has become the main cultural and political issue of the precarious generation. Also Muhamed Barghouzi was depressed, when he decided to kill himself because he could not go to university because he was poor and unemployed, and the Tunisian police had impeached him to sell fruit in the public. Aaron Swartz was not a destitute person as Muhamed Barghouzi, but they shared the same feeling of loneliness and precariousness.
Depression has much to do with poverty, unemployment and despair, and much to do with the refusal of bearing the daily load of intolerable violence when you start feeling that this load is not going to be uplifted. All the political discourse about democracy and about the wonderful horizons that new technology has opened to us is bullshit – if compared with the daily perception of loneliness, the main psychological effect of the process of virtualization in conditions of economic competition.  Depression is deeply entrenched in the intimate digital recesses of precarious life. The suicide of Aaron Swartz questions the present form of digital alienation. Irrealization, disembodiment and loneliness: an every expanding territory of excitement with no affective return. The same gestures and the same signs are defining friendship, a codified automatic reaction.
According to the World Health Organization in the last 45 years suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide. Suicide is one of the three leading causes of death among people between 15 and 44 years, and the second leading cause of death in the 15–19 years age group, and these figures do not include suicide attempts which are up to 20 times more frequent than completed suicide. I’m persuaded that suicide is a phenomenon whose political importance is crucial in our times, but my focus is not on the impressive increase of the number of people who commit or try to commit suicide, but on the special meaning that this act is acquiring at the social and cultural level in our times. My point is that when bio-capitalism infiltrates the nervous cell of the sensible organisms of human beings, a morbid sentiment permeates the collective Unconscious, culture and sensibility. Is there a way out from the suicidal syndrome which taking its daily toll in the Chinese factories and in the Indian farms, among young Islamists and among precarious cognitive workers.
Is there a way out from this trend? I do not know. I know that Aaron has been killed by the mix of techno-alienation and repressive violence of financial capitalism which is the main feature of contemporary oppression.