Dale Carnegie’s Death

by Krishna on January 4, 2007

Many years ago when I was doing my under-graduate work in college, I read Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”. It was a good book with advice that I found reasonable and practical. In a conversation with a friend, I mentioned what I was reading. He laughed and said that it was ironic because Dale Carnegie leaped to his death from the window of a high-rise building six months after writing this book. I believed him because he stated it as a matter of fact.

There was no Internet, at least in my hometown, in India at that time. I would have had to verify such a fact by finding a biography or encyclopedia in the library - since it was no big deal, I didn’t do so. Furthermore, for several years, whenever mention of Dale Carnegie would come up, I would think, “Aha! The hypocrite who committed suicide because he couldn’t stop worrying.” The funny thing was that in later years, a Google search was just seconds away and I would still place my faith in my friend’s words. Until just a few days ago…

In my last post, I wrote about reading the Personal MBA books. Accordingly, I went to the library (Leach Library in Londonderry, NH) and found there was a new audio book for “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. I like audio books since they are convenient to get through during my daily commute. As part of the whole chain of events, I finally Googled “Dale Carnegie” and got to the Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dale_Carnegie. Here’s the excerpt:

He died of Hodgkin's disease on November 1, 1955

I did more searches on Google and, yes, he did die at the age of 67 in 1955. The “How to Stop Worrying…” book was published in 1948. I have not found any mention of suicide or euthanasia regarding his death.

So what does this mean? I wonder how many other ideas, concepts and “facts” we all walk around with believing that they are absolute truth without doing any cross-verification. The problem is that after years of listening to people, reading various sources, and other means of acquiring information, it is natural to forget where any piece of information was acquired from. And even if it was acquired from a respectable source like a news site, when does someone look at the name of the actual person who wrote the information and further verify it? How many times do we read Letters to the Editor where a mistake is pointed out?

New discoveries and inventions in every field of human endeavor are also changing what previously was accepted as fact. I was very surprised when I read that the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2005 was awarded for the discovery that gastritis and peptic ulcer disease was caused by a bacterium. For all my life, it was thought that stress was the cause of ulcers. Hence, the term “don’t burn a hole in your stomach”.

Moral of the story: Question beliefs. Cross-verify facts. Show me the corroboration.

{ 70 comments }

Ramesh February 21, 2011 at 12:04 pm

There is another thing to think. He has written the book “How to influence people and win friends” but he divorced two times.

Patricia March 21, 2011 at 2:38 am

The other way of looking at his divorce is that he could influence two people in his life where as normally people struggle to live with one person and don’t have the courage to take a decision and are not honest either…

Virginia April 1, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Maybe she read his book and influenced him to ask for a divorce.

learn April 5, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Life lessons comes from facing hardships sometimes. He probably learnt his lessons while facing difficult situations (it is better to divorce than live a dishonest and unhealthy life)

emil george April 17, 2011 at 12:01 pm

hi….gastritis and peptic ulcers are of multifactorial origin….the bacterium predisposes the gastric mucosa to damage….stress is also a predisposing factor…so don’t go by the belief that its just the bacterium which causes the disease…just thought i should inform you,cos i myself am a doctor…

Romesh Rustom April 23, 2011 at 2:17 pm

I had heard a similar story till I took your path. I think people like their lives complicated because of the juice their ego gets out of it. Urban legends need to be verified. I am glad we live in the age of free exchange of information. Finally a verifiable means of ascertaining the truth of such atrocious thought processes. Makes you wonder of all the negative thought patterns we have put ourselves into because of hearsay!

Romesh Rustom April 23, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Here is an interesting link I found that explains the origin of such a rumor…

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080516111228AAbjy7g

charles kenyan. May 5, 2011 at 4:18 pm

i only read one of his books recentry.he had powerful principles,but it doesn’t mean he was not man.i am sure he could handle situations better than most of us

sanctionalways May 30, 2011 at 11:09 am

This is the reason we should follow scriptures which are the user manual for this world by God. Not man made books which are written by imperfect people . Because human beings are subject to four defects.

VICTOR MARANTZ July 28, 2011 at 4:56 am

In 1945 my wife and I attended a presentation by Dale Carnegie at Carnegie Hall in New York City. From the stage Dale Carnegie asked fpr volunteers to appear on stage and state why they wanted to buy his book. “HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE” We shook hands and spouse and I delivered a short speech that brought on thunderous applause. Of course we purchased his book. Sorry to say the marriage was annulled 8 months later She was a stunning brunette and had we met much later it would have turned out differently..Married again for 51 years. Tears. 6 years and thriving..If only we could derive peace and pleasure from self help masterpieces.

V.Vijayamohan September 12, 2011 at 1:54 pm

It is some thing I wanted to check up long time back.I had heard from famous people that Dale Carnegie committed suicide – evidently, they have also not cross checked the facts. Thanks for the info you have given.
The first English Books that influenced my thinking on topics like Not worrying, being happy, being successful – were by Dale Carnegie. His ideas sounded so clear and absolute – that I did follow many of them for the last 40 years almost.
And, I do not regret. I modified the ideas to suit specific local conditions – to some extent. But, by and large, I hold them as being in the right direction.
He himself may or may not be totally successful with his principles.But, that does not mean – the principles were wrong. He was wrong in implementation – some where. It happens to the best of people.

bisrat October 21, 2011 at 10:00 am

i wonder how he could suicide himself i wil read his book again …i imagine world wt out suicide

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