Norah Vincent Cause of Death: How the Journalist’s Experiment as a Man Led to Her Suicide

Norah Vincent was an American journalist and author who gained fame for her book Self-Made Man, in which she detailed her 18-month experiment of living as a man. She died by suicide in July 2022, at the age of 53, in Switzerland. According to a friend of the author, the cause of death was a “voluntary assisted death”.What led Vincent to take this drastic step? How did her experience as a man affect her mental health and outlook on life? Here is a brief overview of Vincent’s life and work, and the possible reasons behind her tragic death.

Who Was Norah Vincent?

Norah Vincent was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1968. She grew up in both Detroit and London, where her father worked as a lawyer for the Ford Motor Company. She graduated from Williams College with a BA in philosophy in 1990, and pursued graduate studies at Boston College. She also worked as an editor for Free Press.

Vincent was a weekly columnist for the Los Angeles Times and a quarterly columnist for The Advocate, a national gay and lesbian news magazine. She also wrote for The Village Voice,, The New Republic, The New York Times, New York Post, The Washington Post, and other publications. She was known for her provocative and controversial views on politics, culture, gender, and sexuality.

What Was Self-Made Man About?

Self-Made Man was Vincent’s most famous book, published in 2006. It chronicled her 18-month experiment in the early 2000s, in which she disguised herself as a man with the help of a makeup artist, a voice coach, a chest binder, and a prosthetic penis. She adopted the name Ned and infiltrated various male-dominated spaces, such as a bowling league, a men’s therapy group, a strip club, a monastery, and the dating scene. She wanted to explore how men interacted with each other and with women, and how they experienced the world differently from women.

Vincent described her experiment as “the most terrifying moment” of her life. She said she was surprised by the welcoming handshake of strange men, the camaraderie among male friends, the loneliness of male monks, the vulnerability of male patients, the aggression of male competitors, and the rejection of female dates. She also said she felt more pressure to perform, to conform, to succeed, and to hide her emotions as a man.

Vincent claimed that her experiment made her appreciate being a woman more and empathize with men more. She said: “Men are suffering. They have different problems than women have but they don’t have it better. They need our sympathy, they need our love, and they need each other more than anything else. They need to be together.”

How Did Self-Made Man Affect Vincent’s Mental Health?

Vincent admitted that her experiment took a toll on her mental health. She said she suffered from depression, anxiety, insomnia, and suicidal thoughts during and after her experiment. She said she felt like she had lost herself and had betrayed her own identity. She said: “I was not at home in my own skin any more. I cut myself off from my own sexuality at its very root. And that was devastating.” 

Vincent also said she developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from some of the experiences she had as a man. She said she was sexually harassed by women at a strip club, physically assaulted by men at a bar fight, emotionally abused by women on dates, and spiritually conflicted by living among monks. She said: “I learned that sex is very different when you have to be aggressive rather than receptive.” 

Vincent sought professional help for her mental health issues after her experiment ended. She wrote another book called Voluntary Madness (2008), in which she documented her experiences as an inpatient in three different mental institutions. She criticized the psychiatric system for being too reliant on drugs and too detached from patients’ needs. She also advocated for more humane and holistic approaches to mental health care.

Why Did Vincent Choose to Die?

Vincent’s exact reasons for choosing to end her life are not known. However, some clues can be found in her writings and interviews. Vincent revealed that she had struggled with depression since childhood. She also said she had attempted suicide before. She said she felt alienated from society and from herself. She said she had difficulty finding love and happiness.

Vincent also expressed disillusionment with the state of the world and the human condition. She said: “I think we’re living in very dark times … I think we’re very lost.”She said she was pessimistic about the future and the possibility of change. She said: “I don’t think there’s any hope for us … I think we’re doomed.”

Vincent may have also been influenced by her views on death and euthanasia. She said she believed that death was not something to be feared, but rather a natural and inevitable part of life. She said: “I think death is a friend … I think it’s a release.”She also said she supported the right of people to choose when and how to die, especially if they were suffering from terminal or incurable illnesses. She said: “I think people should have the right to die with dignity … I think it’s a mercy.” 


Norah Vincent was a talented and courageous journalist who dared to challenge the norms and stereotypes of gender and society. She exposed herself to risks and hardships in order to gain insights and understanding of the lives of others. She also shared her own struggles and vulnerabilities with honesty and candor. She left behind a legacy of provocative and influential works that continue to inspire and challenge readers.

However, Vincent also paid a high price for her curiosity and passion. She suffered from mental health problems that stemmed from her experiment as a man, as well as from her personal history and worldview. She ultimately decided to end her life in a way that she believed was dignified and compassionate. Her death was a tragic loss for her family, friends, fans, and the world of journalism.

Norah Vincent cause of death was a complex and multifaceted issue that cannot be reduced to a single factor or explanation. It was the result of a combination of personal, psychological, social, and philosophical factors that influenced her choices and actions. It was also a reflection of the challenges and dilemmas that many people face in their quest for identity, meaning, and happiness in a troubled and uncertain world.

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