He just couldn't take it anymore. Plus, Paul Gauguin cut off his ear in a fight and they covered it up. These are the revelations from 2 academics who have closely studied Van Gogh family documents. Let's nor forget that at the time of his death (and for a number of years following it) he was a virtual unknown. Living from hand-to-mouth and painting whenever he could. That his personal accounts acquired some degree of "myth" may reflect the possibility that they were spun out of conversations at the "Moulin Rouge" - or some other venue by patrons of an absinthe bar!