New Delhi: Aaron Swartz, who helped develop RSS and co-founded Reddit, was found dead weeks before he was to go on trial on charges that he stole millions of scholarly articles in an attempt to make them freely available to the public. But what drove the computer prodigy to suicide? The US federal prosecution or his mental health or a combination of both?
In their statement, Swartz's family expressed not only grief over his death but bitterness toward US federal prosecutors pursuing the case in Massachusetts against him. Swartz left no suicide note.
"Aaron's death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach," the statement from his family and girlfriend said.
This December 8, 2012 photo provided by ThoughtWorks shows Aaron Swartz, in New York. Swartz, a co-founder of Reddit, hanged himself on Friday, January 11, 2013, in New York City. In 2011, he was charged with stealing millions of scientific journals from a computer archive at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in an attempt to make them freely available. He had pleaded not guilty, and his federal trial was to begin next month. (AP Photo/ThoughtWorks, Pernille Ironside)
Swartz apparently struggled at times with depression, writing in a 2007 blog post: "Surely there have been times when you've been sad. Perhaps a loved one has abandoned you or a plan has gone horribly awry. ... You feel worthless. ... depressed mood is like that, only it doesn't come for any reason and it doesn't go for any either."
Swartz left the news-sharing website Reddit after it was acquired by Wired magazine owner Conde Nast. Recalling that time of his life, Swartz described his struggles with dark feelings.
In an online account of his life and work, Swartz said he became "miserable" after going to work at the San Francisco offices of Wired after Reddit was acquired. "I took a long Christmas vacation," he wrote. "I got sick. I thought of suicide. I ran from the police. And when I got back on Monday morning, I was asked to resign."
(With inputs from AP)