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CoastLine: Hemingway's Suicide Incorrectly Attributed To Alcoholism And Bipolar Disorder

Hemingway's Brain, by Andrew Farah, published by University of South Carolina

On July 2, 1961, Ernest Hemingway rose quietly, so as not to disturb his wife.  He put on his bathrobe and slippers, walked down to the basement of his Idaho home, and unlocked his gun case.  He climbed the steps to his foyer, placed his favorite shotgun to the roof of his mouth, and blew the top of his head off.

That’s the opening paragraph from Hemingway’s Brain, by Psychiatrist and Author Andrew Farah, who researched Hemingway’s suicide for 17 years before writing the book.

While many have posthumously attributed Hemingway’s death to depression, bipolar disorder, and alcoholism, Farah offers a new look at the factors leading to that fateful July morning. 

On July 25th, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Associationconcluded that of 111 NFL football players whose brains were examined posthumously, 110 of them showed signs of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease that doctors believe is caused by repeated blows to the head. 

Could CTE have played a role in Ernest Hemingway’s demise?  And are there other factors that have, so far, gone unexamined? 


Dr. Andrew Farah, Author, Hemingway’s Brain, published by the University of South Carolina; Chief of Psychiatry at the High Point Division of the University of North Carolina Health Care System

Dr. Farah holds a book-signing on Saturday, July 29th from 2-5 PM at the Barnes & Noble at Mayfaire in Wilmington.

Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 2 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.