At least two newspapers are linking that to his love of the manga.
Rahul came from Lucknow - the capital city of India's Upper Pradesh district - where he attended the prestigious La Martiniere school.
On April 10th 2015, at 11.15am, he leapt from a fourth floor ledge of its Constantia building. Rahul was rushed to hospital with horrific head injuries, where he died shortly later. His suicide was witnessed by several horrified students, some of whom have penned blogs to express their traumatised reactions.
Rahul's elder brother Rohit has hit out at school authorities. They didn't act fast enough to curb the bullying to which his brother was subjected at the school. Rohit believes it wasn't even suicide. He's lodged a complaint with the police stating that Rahul may have been pushed by those same bullies.
The investigation thus far appears to have circled around another angle - Rahul had been spending a lot of time talking and texting with a female friend. He deleted entries from his call log and burned papers upon the ledge, which are suspected to have pertained to her.
When he died, a note in his back pocket read, 'waiting for you Juliet'. He'd painted 'waiting for you' on a wall close to where he jumped.
Rahul Sridhar and Death Note
However, some elements of the press are seizing upon Rahul Sridhar's love of Death Note as a contributory factor in this tragic event.
The front page of the Hindustan Times, on April 12th 2015, ran an editorial noting that Rahul's Facebook cover image was Death Note related.
It was Kira, captioned 'I am the God of this New World'.
Under the headline 'Was 'Death Note' as FB Cover Rahul's distress signal?', it was reported that La Martinere's school management were left 'puzzled' by the picture. They would be looking into what 'drove' the teenager to read the 'thriller'.
It was suggested that reading manga like Death Note would be used in future as an alert. Students enjoying such literature might find it triggering a recommendation to their parents that counseling should be forthcoming.
On the same day, The Times of India scrambled around to find people who would attest that Rahul Sridhar was indeed an introverted, manga obsessed Death Note fan.
Under the headline 'Introvert Who Doodled Death Note', Sawil Khan - who rode on the same school bus as the stricken teen - told reporters that Rahul didn't interact much with other students, preferring to listen to music on his MP3 player. Mihir Kumar - another classroom - called Rahul introverted.
Then Rohit Sridhar described his brother's propensity to draw manga and anime characters that Rahul liked. '(Death Note) was there in every notebook of his. It was his favourite.'
In short, reporters are already reaching to stick this one onto Death Note.
Don't Blame Death Note for Teen's Death
I can't escape the unsettling feeling that I could be counted amongst them.
But I like to think that I'm writing for pity - my heart breaks when I consider what Rahul's family and friends are going through right now - and awareness. No problem is so vast that time can't move it along, with a little help from communication and working to fix the underlying issues. I didn't know Rahul, but I wish my time machine worked and I could be on that ledge waiting for him.
We had a shared language and frame of reference. We had Death Note.
Tragedy and heartbreak aside, what worries me most about speculation in the wake of Rahul's suicide is this propensity to find a thing - Death Note - and apportion blame. It's too pat, too easy and won't save the next child to stand on a ledge and wish for an end.
The next Rahul will be helped by those investigating with all the known facts. Those who can identify the bullying, the (failed? thwarted?) romance, the depression or whatever else it really was that drove him to despair. Because it sure as Hell wasn't Death Note.
The darkness and moral ambiguity of that story, to my mind, is the sort of thing that appeals to those who think deeply about right and wrong. It's an escape; an avenue for catharsis, which might have saved another mind. If whatever required the escape wasn't so overwhelmingly stacked against him.
I guess that all I'm saying is - don't reach for the easy answer, nor play the blame game on something which causes a moral scare enough to make this go away. Because it won't go away, as long as the real reasons are there.
Tackle them. That's all.
And for now, RIP Rahul Sridhar. I didn't know you, but you were one of our own. We have a man down and for that I'm sorry.
Need to talk about it?
Whatever crap is going down, I can guarantee that you are loved and will be missed by more people than you know. You matter a lot.
- International organisation providing local helplines for those feeling like suicide is the only way out. It's not. Please give them a chance to prove it to you.