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Ilya Zhitomirskiy Cause of Death: Social Networking Co-Founder Committed Suicide

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By Brendan Giusti, Christian Post Reporter
November 15, 2011|10:49 am

Ilya Zhitomirskiy, co-founder of the social networking site Diaspora, died from an apparent suicide, according to reports.

The young entrepreneur was found dead in San Francisco by police, who were responding to a call about a possible suicide on Saturday. He was 22. The exact means in which he died will not be known until after the coroner reviews the cause, which could take several weeks.

Zhitomirskiy and three other students created Diaspora, an open-source social networking site aimed at rivaling Facebook.

"Ilya was a great guy. He was a visionary, he was a co-founder of a company that hopes to bring a better social networking experience," a Diaspora spokesman, told The Associated Press. "We are all very sad that he is gone. It is a huge loss for all of us, including his family."

The group of students raised more than $200,000 to start the site by collecting contributions through the website Kickstarter.

It is unclear why Zhitomirskiy took his own life amid his recent entrepreneurial successes.

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More than 90 percent of all suicide victims suffer from depression or other mental disorders, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Often a substance-abuse problem accompanies the mental disorder.

In 2007, suicide was the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

It is not clear what risk factors for suicide Zhitomirskiy had prior to taking his own life.

Men age 20 to 24 are six times more likely to commit suicide than women in the same age bracket, according to the CDC.

More than 36,000 people committed suicide in the U.S. in 2008, according to statistics from the American Association of Suicidology. There were more than 1 million attempts that same year.

Despite Zhitomirskiy's death, the other founders of Diaspora said they would continue with the social networking project, the International Business Times reported.

"We'll all miss Ilya more than we can say. Ilya was a great friend and a brilliant person, a visionary whose work for a better future online brought hope to many people," Diaspora co-founder Peter Shurman said in a statement.

 

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