Heather Brooke Armstrong, the writer known as “Dooce” who gained popularity in the early days of blogging, died Tuesday. She was 47. Her family announced her death in an Instagram post on Wednesday.
Her boyfriend, Pete Ashdown, told the Associated Press she died by suicide. “She had a relapse recently and that’s what really spiraled her down. She was sober for over 18 months, then started to sneak back into it. And then in the last month she went full tilt,” Ashdown told AP.
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A fluid and candid writer, she had long chronicled her struggles with severe depression and alcoholism. She had more recently been criticized for promoting anti-trans sentiments on her blog dooce.com.
A single post remains on the dooce.com site, posted on April 6, in which she writes about the pain of her struggle with alcohol. “Early sobriety resembles living life as a clam without its shell,” she wrote, going on to write at length about her daughter and post music videos that were meaningful to her.
She had returned to her maiden name Heather Hamilton, but used her married name Heather Armstrong for much of her career. She became known as “queen of the mommy bloggers,” with a large audience of readers across the country. But before she had children, she was fired in 2002 from her Los Angeles web development job for blogging about her company and co-workers. The internet dubbed her firing for blogging as getting “dooced,” which became shorthand for being dismissed for writing about a workplace. Her co-workers had given her the nickname “Dooce” for a typo she made while writing “dude.”
After returning to Salt Lake City, where she’d grown up, Hamilton began writing about the ups and downs of motherhood and marriage. As blogs became a popular form of media, dooce.com reportedly reached more than 8 million viewers a month and earned her more than $100,000 a year from ads on the blog.
Though some readers criticized her use of her children’s photos and stories as material for her blog, she became a popular media figure, guesting on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in 2009 and being named one of the most influential women in media by Forbes that same year. She went on to do branded content for several companies, including Ford, Nintendo and Clorox.
Hamilton also wrote three books about her experiences with parenting and depression, “The Valedictorian of Death,” “Dear Daughter” and “It Sucked Then I Cried.”
If you or anyone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please call 988 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources.
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