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Why did David Sedaris' sister kill herself?

David Sedaris was one of six siblings, but in May this year that number became five when his youngest sister, Tiffany, committed suicide, shortly before her 50th birthday. Now, for the first time, the author and broadcaster has opened up about her death, her life and his feelings for her. He admits that he didn’t really know her very well – and so some of the things he discovered once she’d passed away gave him a shock. Firstly, there was the will – which stipulated that the family was not allowed to have her body or go to her memorial service, he wrote in The New Yorker. Tiffany’s house, in Somerville, Massachusetts, contained very few belongings – a mattress on the floor and two boxes’ worth of possessions. These were collected by David's actress sister, Amy. And in them were family photos that had been ripped to shreds. He wrote: ‘It seemed such a melodramatic gesture, like throwing a glass against a wall. Something someone in a movie would do.’ The family also discovered that she’d been a regular drug user, when she was young, at least. A classmate had drawn a marijuana leaf beside her name in an old school year book. And someone had written: ‘Call me sometime this summer and we’ll go out and get blitzed.’ Also in the house were ‘comment cards from a neighborhood grocery store, notebooks, receipts, a paper plate on a dresser that had several drawers missing, a phone number written on a wall, and a collection of mop handles, each one a different color, arranged like cattails in a barrel painted green’. A survey of Tiffany’s house revealed nothing about why she might have taken her own life, he said. The Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls author describes how looking at Tiffany’s possessions was fascinating, because of how little he knew her. The 56-year-old said: ‘Each of us had pulled away from the family at some point in our lives - we’d had to in order to forge our own identities, to go from being a Sedaris to being our own specific Sedaris. Tiffany, though, stayed away.’ Tiffany’s death was something that just didn’t add up for David. He added: ‘How could anyone purposefully leave us, us, of all people? Ours is the only club I’d ever wanted to be a member of, so I couldn’t imagine quitting.’


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