Suicide at College
There are real people, sons and daughters, behind the startling statistics on suicides on campus:
- Michelle Gluckman, John D. Skolnik, and Stephen Bohler, New York University. All three students fell to their deaths from high university buildings in separate instances in the fall of 2003.
- Michelle, a sophomore from Brooklyn, New York, had shared a marijuana cigarette with two friends in a sixth-floor apartment in a private apartment building in the heart of the campus. She then lay on a bed and said, "I can't take it anymore." She cleared the way to a kitchen window and went out the window head first as her two friends tried unsuccessfully to hold her by her legs. She landed on a part of the building four floors below.
- John, a twenty-year-old junior from Evanston, Illinois, jumped to his death from the upper-floor interior balconies of NYU's twelve-story Bobst Library the first week of classes in September.
- Stephen, a freshman from Irvine, California, also fell from a high floor at Bobst on October 10. His mother reported that her son had had no major emotional problems, adding that the city medical examiner's office had been studying whether he was on hallucinogenic drugs at the time of his death.
- Michael Frentzel, Ferrum College, Virginia. Michael hanged himself in his dorm room in February 2000. The college had placed him on disciplinary probation after police were called during a fight with classmates and another with his girlfriend. The college's dean of student affairs had noticed he was bruised from banging his head against a wall and had self-inflicted scratches on his neck. Frentzel's family feels he was crying out for help.
- Jason Altom, Harvard University. Jason drank a liquid laced with cyanide in August 1998. A graduate student in the chemistry department, Jason's suicide note began, "Professors here have too much power over the lives of their grad students." Yet no one had any idea that Jason felt unfairly treated. His was the second suicide out of this department in two years.
- Elizabeth Shin, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Elizabeth set herself on fire in her dorm room on April 14, 2000. She had been to the university's counseling center on many occasions and was given medication. Elizabeth's parents are suing MIT because they felt that her care was not coordinated and they should have been contacted with more details about her behavior. (For more on Elizabeth's case, see Chapter Five.)
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