Son of Iran’s Shah Commits Suicide

January 5, 2011 Updated: January 7, 2011

[xtypo_dropcap]T[/xtypo_dropcap]he son of the late Shah of Iran, 44-year-old Alireza Pahlavi committed suicide early Tuesday morning in his Boston apartment after succumbing to a long battle with depression, his family said.

Alireza is the second of Shah’s children to commit suicide. In 2001 the Shah’s youngest daughter Leila Pahlavi died of a drug overdose.

Preliminary investigations into Alireza’s death show that he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. However medical examiners in Suffolk County, Mass., have not yet made a conclusive report, according to the spokesman for the Suffolk County district attorney, Jake Wark.

“We have not determined whether this was an accident or suicide, however, we do not believe this is foul play at this point,” Wark said.

The Pahlavi family announced the death in a written statement. They said that the late Alireza was “deeply disturbed by all the ills fallen upon his beloved homeland" and "struggled for years to overcome his sorrow."

Stanford University’s Director of Iranian Studies Abbas Milani, noted that the Shah’s family has a history of depression, in an e-mail correspondence with TIME Magazine.

"Sadly, the Shah did have a propensity for depression. In nearly every major profile of him prepared by the CIA, or British and American embassies, there is some allusion to this brooding, melancholy tendenc
y. One report calls him 'Hamlet-like.' The other side of this tendency was the Shah's love of speed, fast cars, and flying. The sad young man [who] killed himself apparently shared both qualities," Milani wrote.

Some Iranians however, have expressed their dismay at what they find to be the Pahlavi family’s politicization of the tragedy.

“Even as a staunch anti-monarchist and critic of the Pahlavi regime, but also a mother, I still cannot help but feel sympathy with their family today,” wrote one Iranian in a Facebook note, “I do however wish that the Pahlavis or their advisers would use this opportunity to support mental health causes and to help minimize the stigma associated with depression, instead of politicizing the tragic suicide of their family member.”

Alireza Pahlavi received his bachelor’s from Princeton University, his master’s from Columbia, and took classes on ancient Iranian Studies at Harvard University.