In the final months of his life, pioneering writer Hunter S. Thompson had often discussed taking his own life, according to his widow, and when he finally did on Sunday, she was on the phone with him.
Anita Thompson told the Aspen Daily News on Friday (February 25) that her husband killed himself while the two were talking. "I was on the phone with him, he set the receiver down and he did it. I heard the clicking of the gun," she told the paper. "I was waiting for him to get back on the phone."
Anita Thompson said she and her husband had a small fight earlier in the day and she had left their house in Aspen, Colorado, to go to the gym. Later in the day, she said, he called her and asked her to return home so they could work on his weekly column for ESPN.com. But rather than say goodbye, he put the phone down and shot himself. (see "Hunter S. Thompson, 'Gonzo' Journalism Pioneer, Commits Suicide").
She told the newspaper that her husband had begun discussing plans to take his life in the months leading up to the incident — upset by his failing health and writing capacity — and that he had been issuing written directives about what he wanted done with his body and his unpublished works. The talk of suicide had begun to strain their relationship, Anita Thompson said. "He wanted to leave on top of his game. I wish I could have been more supportive of his decision. It was a problem for us."
In one of those final directives, according to a report in The Boston Globe, Thompson said wanted to have his body cremated and his ashes shot out of a cannon. His friends and family plan to honor that wish on the grounds of the "fortified compound" where he took his own life.
"This was definitely not spur of the moment," George Tobia Jr, an entertainment lawyer who represented Thompson for the past 15 years, told the Globe. "He arranged to have things dealt with, and he wanted his family close by, but he didn't want anyone to know — he didn't want anyone to try to stop him."
Meanwhile, Thompson's family and friends will gather March 5 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Belly Up nightclub in Aspen for a tribute worthy of the "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" author. Thompson frequented the club often, and even bestowed it with a nickname — Fat City.
A public celebration of Thompson's life is planned for early this summer.
Publisher Vintage Books has reported that since Thompson took his own life, sales of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" have jumped significantly, forcing them to order a reprinting.
For more on the life and legacy of Hunter S. Thompson, check out "Hunter S. Thompson: Shutting The Door, Painting The Windows Black, By Kurt Loder."