Ryan Nash could make “anyone’s frown turn upside down.”
The 15-year-old freshman at Carl Sandburg High School was described by a longtime classmate as having a knack for lightening the mood of those around him.
“Ryan was a great kid, always had a smile on his face, knew how to cheer people up,” said Tony Gizzi, a classmate for about eight years. “He was the one kid who would never talk behind someone’s back. He was just a joyful person. He loved hanging out with friends, one of the most social kids I knew. Nobody could talk bad about Ryan.”
Ryan Nash took his own life Sunday afternoon. The coroner has ruled his death a suicide.
On Monday, Sandburg students paid tribute to Ryan Nash by wearing black.
For Tuesday’s school day, they pledged to wear white in his honor.
Students also are having T-shirts and bracelets made to raise money either for Nash’s family, suicide prevention or both. The bracelets are planned to be black with #RN20, the hashtag that friends of his used on Twitter to build awareness, in the hope that other people in pain will seek help before it is too late.
The T-shirts are expected to read on the back “They Say the Good Die Young/But You Weren’t Good/You Were Beyond It.”
The young athlete's death was on the minds of his classmates during their games. The Sandburg Eagles Girls Lacrosse Team, sporting arm bands with #RN20 on them, dedicated its two wins against Fenwick High School during Monday’s senior night to Nash.
His untimely death also affected those who didn’t know him well.
“I did not know him personally,” wrote Lexi Solofra. “All I know is that he was loved by many, and we all wish he could have known that.”
Nash played baseball as a Sandburg Eagle and with the Tinley Park Bulldogs travel team.
Bulldogs Commissioner Chris Hupe said he was devastated to hear the news, Tinley Park Patch reported Monday.
"It's unbelievable," Hupe said. "We haven't had it hit this close to home as long as I've been with the organization. I struggle with words, to tell you the truth."
As word of the freshman's suicide spread through Twitter and other social media circles, many speculated about why he took his own life. Those close to the teen and his family tell Patch that such speculation is off the mark and hurtful.
Amid their grief, those who knew Nash remembered how easily he made people laugh.
“He was a great person. He could make anyone smile even if they were having the worst day ever,” said Julia Luzinski. “His jokes made everyone laugh and it was always a joy to be around.”