Draven Rodriguez didn’t want a yearbook image like all others..so he made himself different, posing with his cat and laser lights. It went on to become one of those ‘things of the internet,’ the little pieces of pop culture that seem to catch on and stick. Although for Rodriguez, this senior portrait of fame has ended very  badly: News reports abounded this weekend that he committed suicide..

According to reports, he was 17 and took his own life on Thursday last week.  The New York teen is now being mourned online, the same place where his image went viral only months ago.

There are also endless theories popping up in comments sections on stories concerning why Rodriguez died.. But this is the nature of suicide and stories like this: we don’t know.. we will never know, and quite frankly, perhaps we should not know.

Whether he intended the world to see his image or just to make high school fame, his creativity and fearlessness should be appreciated and applauded.

But the thing I fear the most for the family, the part that touches my heart more than anything else, is that most people who share the image of this innocent young man will never know the tragic outcome of his fate from days ago.. they will share his image and it will live on in Internet infamy.. it will continue to exist in the domain of the meme..

And all the while, the young man left his family and this world, took his own life, and ended whatever ordeal he was dealing with on this planet.. His family, the obituary said, cherished him. What family wouldn’t cherish an amazing soul in their lives? What parents wouldn’t give every bit of their love and support to a child?

I ponder this: Did internet fame somehow haunt this young man? Did his meme becoming a shared and viral picture destroy him, even though he only did it to celebrate the dare to be different and the joy of being creative? Did the world somehow stomp him down?

Only he knew that…

No words are adequate for suicide, and I would not even pretend to articulate the morals or implications of Rodriguez’s decision. I think we know them already..

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