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Loneliness, conspiracy theories and loss apparently drove the troubled man who set himself on fire this week across the street from the courthouse where former President Donald Trump is on trial.

The final, fatal act was a tragic denouement in the life of Max Azzarello, who friends described as intelligent and kind — but somewhat depressed, and still reeling from the 2022 death of his mother, who he followed when he moved to Florida a few years ago.

Azzarello, 37, grew up on Long Island’s North Shore, in the tiny village of Sea Cliff, and moved to Florida, following his parents.

Max Azzarello struggled with loneliness and depression, friends said, but they also remembered him as “very smart” and “hilarious.”

“He was the grandest man I ever met in my life and I adored him,” Jamie Black, 63, of Sea Cliff, who was friends with Max’s late mother, Libby, and had known him since he was about 8.

“He was brilliant and one of my closest friends. I am devastated.”

Sources who knew Azzarello said he was prescribed anti-depressants, along with Adderall, in his earlier years, and fairly recently started taking amphetamines.

Azzarello was “almost too smart,” Black said.

“I even said once to him, are you schizophrenic but he wasn’t,” Black said.

“He was so caring and kind and hilarious and he was brought up in a great family. I don’t think he had any mental illness. I think he was just too smart.”

Friends said they were “devastated” upon hearing of Max Azzarello’s death after he lit himself on fire Friday in front of the Trump trial courthouse. St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office

Azzarello’s lifelong friend, Daniel Carleton, who went to middle school and high school with Azzarello and roomed with him at UNC-Chapel Hill for four years, said he always had some mental health issues.

“There may have been a chemical imbalance there that was made worse by substance abuse but there was no specific diagnosis,” he said.

Azzarello was lonely, Carleton said. Azzarello, who was straight, never seemed to have a girlfriend, he added.

He was very close, however, to his sister Katherine, 38, who lives in Brooklyn.

Friends said Azzarello took a turn for the worse after his mother died in 2022, he quit his job and started delving into conspiracy theories. Max Azzarello/Instagram

“He’s always been very smart, since middle school,” Carleton told The Post.

“He was good guy and he was always political.”

“He was alone for a long time and I think it was a major contributor to his decline,” he added.

“His family is great. They knew he had issues and they had him checked into a mental health facility last year but they couldn’t keep him past a three-day hold.”

Azzarello lit himself on fire outside the downtown Manhattan courthouse where the Trump trial is taking place. Via REUTERS

“Max was smart enough to game the system and fool the system. The mental health system actually failed him.”

Azzarello took a turn for the worse with the start of 2023, not long after his mother died, Carleton said.

He quit what had been a series of well-paying tech consultant jobs by the end of 2022.

When news broke in March 2023 that the Silicon Valley Bank had suddenly collapsed, Azzarello became obsessed.

Azzarello had long been a Democrat and advocated for leftist causes but in recent years he had come to believe in sinister conspiracy theories that both parties were equally corrupt. REUTERS

The financial institution — a 40-year-old lender to startups and venture capitalists — became the second-biggest bank casualty in US history when it was abruptly shut down by regulators.

Billionaire Peter Thiel had urged startups to pull their cash or risk losing it entirely ahead of the bank’s failure.

“He somehow connected Thiel to all that and went down this huge rabbit hole and started posting crazy conspiracies,” Carleton said.

“The drugs were out of control in 2023.”

Azzarello was arrested three times in Florida last year, including for throwing wine at a framed autograph featuring Bill Clinton, according to police records.

He was jailed Aug. 21 and remained there until Oct. 3, when he was sentenced to 180 days of probation and released.

“He was passionate that government and business elites screwed over the common person and he wanted to fight that. He wanted to start a revolution so much so that he was willing to light himself on fire to get his message out.”

Carleton said Azzarello had been sober since his jail stint.

Azzarello had posted his admiration for Aaron Bushnell, the young airman who self-immolated outside the Israeli embassy in Washington DC last month.

Like a number of his friends, Carleton wanted the positive side of Azzarello remembered.

Azzarello was considered an elite online chess player with a peak rating of over 2000 points which put him in the 96th percentile of online chess players, Carleton said.

“We played chess on the chess app and our last game was two weeks ago and he beat me and I’m a pretty good player,” Carleton said.

“So you can see he was still thinking rationally.”

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or are experiencing a mental health crisis and live in New York City, you can call 1-888-NYC-WELL for free and confidential crisis counseling. If you live outside the five boroughs, you can dial the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention hotline at 988 or go to SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.

Do you think you may suffer from Depression and live in Florida, California or New York?

If so, please consider scheduling a proper virtual online ADHD and Depression diagnosis with one of our physicians. Although we have an online ADHD and Anxiety diagnosis tool, a proper diagnosis from a Board-Certified Medical Doctor will help you know for sure. If appropriate, a customized treatment program will be recommended at the conclusion of that initial visit.

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