May

16

Body Found in East River <strike>Thought To Be</strike> Is Missing Student

Written by

The Spectator reports that a body believed to be that of Richard Ng, the SEAS senior who went missing last Sunday, was found Tuesday afternoon in the East River near South St. and Fulton. The NYPD is investigating.

Update 11:11 p.m.: More info available from Newsday.

Update May 17, 11:30 a.m.: Gothamist has posted a more exhaustive compendium of stories.

Update 5:35 p.m.: A medical examiner has confirmed that the body is that of Richard Ng.

Bwog’s heart goes out to Richard Ng, his family, and his friends.

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63 Comments

  1. i think

    it's really wrong to have 'read more richard ng', i'm not sure why

  2. M.R.

    This is terribly sad news. I hope it's not him.

  3. jon

    It is confirmed to be him. Richard is my cousin. RIP RICHARD. We will miss you. Thanks everyone here for the kind comments.

  4. J.C

    I am so sorry.. I hope Richard rests in peace. I believe Columbia University is responsible for much of this tragedy. The school system is set up so that it is so easy for the students to feel alone and fall through the crack. Columbia students are just as responsible- as we become so caught up in our daily tasks that we don't reach out to those around us with enough effort. I, too, am responsible. Columbia is so quick to take credit for the success and fame of its students but it fails to allocate any significant resources to ensure that students are doing okay. It only knows to teach "book knowledge" and cannot teach us to see what is truly important in life. Richard had so much ahead of him... I am truly sorry and sad–.

    • i agree

      Awful ending to a tragic story, and I can't disagree with the previous poster. I never knew of Richard Ng, nor did anyone I know. He also seems to have only a few friends on facebook, leading me to believe the university probably put the kid aside and didn't help him get back on track. I remember watching one of the reports within the past week, perhaps on CBS2, where a "friend of Richard's" seems to hold back laughter. It was extremely irritating. The university does very little for the kids that fall through the cracks. The current CC/SEAS policy stipulates that students institutionalized and diagnosed with a psychological disability are subject to a one-year suspension of their studies. I'd imagine that many of these students don't return to complete their studies. I believe the policy was implemented after the Ruggles murder-suicide.

      • hold on

        the number of friends you have on facebook could have NOTHING to do with the number of friends you have in real life, for christ's sake. not everyone is completely addicted to the internet, so let's not make such hasty conclusions. also: it's not quite fair to blame the school for someone's death. who knows what went on in richard ng's private life? as you admit, you sure don't. it was not necessarily the fault of "columbia," which is an instutition, not a person, and so should not be personified.

        • please see the bigger picture

          I think everyone knows that it's NOT about the facebook. The point is to ask ourselves how self-absorbed we are! We are either one of those overachievers who's too busy with "grades" or hanging out with our friends- living in our little bubbles. When is the last time we ever cared to reach out to someone in our classes that seems to be depressed or alone? Or ever took the time to get to know someone that did not fit your typical "type" of friends? We are so quick to talk about who we got a job offer with: "GS, JP Morgan.. etc." There's no serious, active resource/ help for those who don't have a job offer by the time they are graduating. As for the blame goes, it's not about blaming but something needs to be done. We are talking about a life of an individual that could have been prevented! Columbia has pretty high suicidal rate. It's no coincidence. When have you ever taken a course at Columbia where you felt that you could reach out to a professor for a personal reason (Umm, Professor XXX, I am feeling so much pressure/ depressed. Could you help me?? Yeah- right!)? And you say "Private matters" are not Columbia's responsibility? Why don't you read how Columbia represents itself in the media: This is straight from a newspaper: " the university is on edge. A university spokeswoman said the community is worried that something bad might have happened to ONE OF ITS OWN. "When someone is missing, you are worried about it like it's a member of your family,""

          Yes It's an institution. That's all it is. So why pretend?

          • Nonon

            "When have you ever taken a course at Columbia where you felt that you could reach out to a professor for a personal reason (Umm, Professor XXX, I am feeling so much pressure/ depressed. Could you help me?? Yeah- right!)?"



            I'm sorry that you haven't ever felt that comfortable with a professor at Columbia - but are you sure it's Columbia's fault? This has been a particularly tough semester for a few of my friends. One in particular has been having emotional problems that have affected her ability to get her work in on time. She went to her professors, was honest about her problems, and was granted all sorts of extensions. Not with some medical note demanding special treatment, just a simple conversation saying "I need help here." Another friend went to health services for counseling for general depression and has found a great support system and a ton of professional resources at his disposal. Yeah, maybe Columbia profs aren't as outwardly warm and fuzzy as at some smaller schools - they may not hunt you down and pester you if they sense you're feeling blue because, let's face it, no prof has enough time to try and suss out the students who look sad in their class because they have big life angst and the students who look sad because they're in class and not asleep in bed - but that doesn't mean they don't care. It just means that the students have to take charge and go talk to them. I'm not saying Columbia is perfect, but it also isn't the cold, faceless instutution it often gets painted as.

          • DearNonon

            I agree- some professors are nice and understanding. But like you said, students have to reach out. Those who are at risk/ depressed, it's often difficult to take charge and reach out. If we mess up academically, the school is in a hurry to reach out to you and put you on academic probation. Why couldn't they care to reach out to students to prevent situations like Richard's?



            Read these articles... Isn't it about time something should be done?



            http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9500E3D7113BF933A25753C1A96E958260&sec=health&pagewanted=print





            http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/03/education/03suicide.html?ei=5070&en=5db10d03eefd7997&ex=1148011200&pagewanted=print&position=

  5. i'm holding

    You said that well. Columbia: the institution.



    Now for a history lesson:



    This is how Columbia treats at-risk students:



    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/03/education/03suicide.html?ei=5070&en=5db10d03eefd7997&ex=1148011200&pagewanted=print&position=



    Perhaps not just in response to this:



    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9500E3D7113BF933A25753C1A96E958260&sec=health&pagewanted=print



    But most likely in response to this:



    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C07E7DE173EF934A35751C0A9669C8B63&sec=health&pagewanted=print



    Say what you want about facebook, and while it's certainly not the be all and end all, it's certainly something worth looking at. Perhaps we'll learn more in the forthcoming days.

  6. What was

    the ruggles murder-suicide?

  7. Don't mean to be the dick...  

    It really has nothing to do with Columbia. Columbia is a private institution setup to provide us with an education, not nurse us and baby us. Falling through the cracks is something that people do to themselves. I don't need my tuition fees going up anymore so that we can address the needs of a few people who can't hack the pressure, or deal with problems in such a negative fashion. I feel terrible for Richard Ng's family and friends, and don't think that there is anything funny about the situation, but to blame Columbia is simply moronic. When you get out into the real world there isn't going to be anyone looking over your shoulder to ensure that you don't fall through the cracks, or ensure that you are ok. We are adults, we need to be responsible for our own actions.

    • don't be confused

      I don't mean to be a dick either but You are skipping a step. College is an intermediate step in life to becoming an adult. That is, before going out into the real world, it's suppose to prepare you for that "real world." You said it right: "WHEN you go out in the real world, no one will baby you –" : The key point being that you are NOT out in the real world just yet. Columbia is suppose to(and claims to) help you become that individual. As for your tuition goes, you should check your facts as to what causes tuition to rise. Allocation of some resource towards helping students to deal with their pressure would actually reduce their over all cost and perhaps help increase inflow of donation.

      • 15 is a crybaby  

        Boo hoo. I hate whiners. Grow up already. This isn't kiddie playground. I wonder how babies who need to be prepared on every level ever make into a school like Columbia. Either you can hack it or you can't. 15 is crybaby whiner.

    • M.R.

      "In Loco Parentis." The problem might just be Columbia. But that's for another day. Today I'm only sad that this should happen to anyone.

  8. It's about time everyone grows up  

    It's about time everyone grows up. Columbia doesn't owe it to anyone setup a mental health network, if you want that check yourself into the mental health services. The people there are friendly. Is Prezbo supposed to walk around and ask everyone how they are doing? And if the pressure is too much, maybe he could turn it down a bit? Get real. Fucking sissies. If you wanted that kind of treatment go community college.

    • AR  

      I think what is perhaps most upsetting (and damaging) about the opinion that Columbia students need to "grow up" and "learn to hack it" is that there's a fundamental difference between mental and physical illness, that the former is somehow less legitimate than the latter. It is not.



      While it's true that diagnosing and treating mental illness present unique problems (since those who are suffering will often be hesitant to seek treatment), Columbia bears a definite responsibility it actively reaching out to students to help. At the very least, it's clear some work needs to be done to eliminate the stigma held against mental illness by many at Columbia.

  9. really?

    Look- don't be so narrow minded. No one is talking about being treated like a baby. And show some respect before talking like you have no manners whatsoever. It's good enough that everyone is talking about it. It really doesn't matter if you agree or not- it's just important that people talk about it.

  10. who's columbia

    for all of those quick to blame "columbia" for its shortcomings, i would like to offer; that columbia is only partially made up of the staff, faclty and administrators that work here. The most defining aspect of Columbia is probably the STUDENTS themselves. So while much of the columbia critism might be justly applied here, i do suugest that it not be used as a scapegoat for a communal responsibility we ALL share to our fellow columbians.



    someone made the comment that we are too self absorbed... that might be true even if unintentional. I personally take a message and lesson from Richard Ng to be proactive and reach out to my classmates especially if its unpopular, inconvenient or uncomfortable.

  11. shhhh

    rest in peace, richard.

  12. Alma Mater

    Well, this certainly turned into one of the more vitriolic Bwog threads in awhile, making me almost long for spineless days of BC/GS bashing. It embarrasses me that I could be right next to any one of you in lecture. It’s frightening to think that some of you may one to day prove to be world leaders.



    RIP, Richard.

  13. jay  

    RIP Ricard.... " oh the folly of youth"

  14. jay  

    Jay- in regards to my last comment ( let me clarify) " Oh the foly of youth THAT so few of you could be so insensative to the plight of another human being.. imagine if rich was your child"

  15. please  

    The focus, at least for the time being, should be Richard and the life that was lost, not a debate about Columbia. It's a tragedy regardless, and my heart goes out to his friends and family.

  16. secret

    I am extremely upset about this. I feel really bad for Richard's parents as well....I am sure this is the last thing they wanted to hear the day of his college graduation.... What pisses me off is how columbia denies stuff. The last two deaths of "unknown causes" were very likely suicides...especially when one dies with advil next to the bed. They ignored the whole bed bug issue too for a long time because they did not want negative publicity...



    I myself was depressed this semester (although never contemplating suicide) and am sure many of you can relate. I did find that the professors I spoke to were very interested in making sure that I was feeling okay and they gave me a lot of advice on how to control my stress. My class dean was also extremely helpful. The few friends I had at school from the past were there for me somewhat but when I saw people going out on weekends I felt sad because I didn't have anyone and when I tried to meet new people they would insist I came on too strong which can lead to an endless cycle of depression. I finally learned to not care about what others are doing because hapiness and confidence must come from within myself and to just study non-stop all week...even when everyone else is partying and to just not think about what others are doing. However, I think as a community we need to learn to be less stuck up and to let others be into our circle of friends or at least spend time with us when they are lonely.

  17. yes

    I think that a lot of people are lonely at Columbia and I feel sad for Richard and his family.

  18. charity begins at home

    this isn't about blame. it's about taking responsibility for ourselves and for each other. richard ng's tragic ending proves that often the greatest need for help and compassion exists right in our own midst.

  19. horse  

    It is very easy to say that we as adults can should be able to take responsibility for our own actions and to push responsibility on the individual, his choices, and his consequences, these are all terribly simple things to point out and you’re right, you can’t put blame on anybody else, nobody forced him to jump off a bridge. But the very idea that someone is in enough pain in a certain environment, for whatever reason, that he being a rational being, made a conscious choice to end his own life, and all the possibilities that that may have entailed, we must take a look at our surroundings to see if there is anything that we can improve in our daily lives and the choices that we as people, and yes, Columbia as an institution made up of people, can make to provide a more conducive place not just for education but for living. We must pull back and look at the environment that we are contained in, and make judgments about what can change to prevent this sort of thing from occurring again. You call yourself an adult when you think that is everything is fine in your life, and it is so easy to forget or ignore all the times we all as individuals have relied on the support and assistance of others. Even the slightest mistake of negligence on this schools part needs to be addressed in a situation like this, because you can’t really get life back, and the fact of the matter is, Columbia collects a majority of people similar to Richard, and your can tease all you want, but its not so easy to just “get along” in a new environment, and its not just the grades, because by most accounts he was doing fine in school, but the reasoning behind his actions is not the point, its the idea that this school attracts and maintains an environment that does not sponsor camaraderie, that does not support unity, and merely masks it over with a menagerie of half assed clubs that put on half assed shows once a year. And the funny thing is, for someone that might not even participate in said clubs, the environment can only seem even more empty, in my short experience here, there is not very much actual connection on a macro level, and no I’m not saying its impossible to make friends here, but the connections that are made are isolated ones, and to put it in high school terms, this school is still rather cliquish and childish, and its filled with a bunch of people that are too busy trying to validate their own self worth both on a social and academic level. Yes, to be harsh, this place is a SECOND RATE IVY, it is filled with a bunch of kids that aren’t comfortable with themselves, kids that are so busy trying to overcome there own insecurities on being smart enough or cool enough that they don’t even recognize when the very people next to them are doing the same damn things, and yes, we can say we see it, because the varsity show “Misery loves Columbia” is smart and witty and pokes fun at our desperate lives, but simply making jokes with no call to action is not enough, and its incidents like Richard that painfully remind us of the dangers of the environment that we are in, your right, it’s the students, and your right, its our own lives, but if this school is trying to truly become first rate, it should not go about it climbing the rankings, but instead it should put its very best into creating an environment that kids will be proud to attend, and I don’t mean cutting Lerner out of pictures and holding tons and tons of interview coaching sessions, I mean truly making this a place that people both love to live and learn, and I don’t have an answer as to what best way to approach it, but taking a “sink or swim” approach toward its undergrads doesn’t resonate with me. I am not enthused at the people that shout out, he needs to take responsibility for his actions, he is dead, he can longer take responsibility for his fucking actions, and it is now up to the rest of us to figure out what the problem was.

  20. confirmed

    I just got an email from the CS department (he was a computer engineering student) -- it's confirmed to be him by medical examiners. Not sure if this was posted yet.



    http://www.ny1.com/ny1/content/index.jsp?stid=1&aid=59500

  21. max

    my dad told me a story about an interview with this guy who was thinking about committing suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge. walked across the bridge, thinking, if anyone smiles at me, i won't jump. no one did. he ended up surviving the fall. i'm not here to blame anyone, but this story illustrates how i feel about this tragedy. we should be kinder to each other. i notice that people scowl at each other a lot at this school, maybe out of insecurity. we should start smiling instead. even if it won't save anyone's life, it might make someone's day.

  22. a reformed scowler  

    i agree about the scowling. i wish people would smile more and be less judgmental.



    i have an inappropriate question. someone posted on bwog before about how you have a pretty good chance of survival after jumping off the brooklyn bridge.. so is that what richard ng did? even though the chances weren't in his favor?

  23. Pragmatist Jerk

    I really hate to be another voice in the crowd who looks at this pragmatically, so first let me say the obligatory "oh this is terrible, rest in peace, etc. etc." Because it is a tragedy. No one disputes that.



    But take a look at suicide prevalence rates nationwide. There are 10-20 per 100,000 population in our age group every year. Columbia has a pretty large undergraduate population...one a year is pretty much expected. Just sayin...



    http://www.suicidology.org/associations/1045/files/2003datapgb.pdf

    • WOW

      WOW. I'm not sure jerk quite sums you up.

    • Sensitive Pragmatist

      You're right. Statistically, one per year is expected. But your choice of time and forum to announce said statistic is entirely inappropriate.



      You understand statistics. What's more, you're (probably) a Columbian. Clearly, you have a brain. Now use it to know not just what's factually right, but what's morally right.



      To use a phrase from the vernacular, "too soon" -- far too soon.

      • Insensitive Pragmatist

        You're right, it is way too soon, insensitive, and not even fully summed up by "jerk."



        However, it's a totally appropriate response to the context of this forum, which has been a debate about Columbia's role in Ng's death. And I would argue that Columbia is actually doing a really good job preventing this sort of thing if it's able to keep to the national average despite the high-stress nature of the academic system.



        The individual loss of Richard Ng is terrible. The fact that an undergraduate population of 6000 had only one suicide in a year is impressively good, not bad.

  24. hmmm  

    in regards to statistics or the perceived distance between faculty and students on campus, I've found that these claims have been largely exaggerated by some students who don't want to reach out themselves. Whose responsibility is mental health??? I felt worried and stressed earlier this year, and after a month of deliberating, decided to call the counseling center and make an appointment. It was extremely easy to do and convenient, and I feel great now. Richard's death is a tragedy, but I don't think it's fair to claim that the university is responsible. there is help and friendship out there for those who make an effort.

  25. lala

    I think its more than 1 suicide...its a person. And also, there have been more deaths that are of "unknown causes" where there are autopsies performed and Columbia never tells us the results (ie: it would make the univeristy look bad).



    I don't think psych services are so great...some of the psychologists are just plain arrogant and nasty. Also, it is very hard to get an appointment in the first place.

  26. geez

    There is a time for everything. This news has barely begun to sunk in for people, even for those who barely knew him. Right now, this is a time for grief and remembrance. Let the debate come at a later, more appropriate time.



    RIP Richard

  27. one is one too many  

    Has anyone of his friends or family found out _why_?



    To the rest of us: incredible though it may seem, there _are_ good people at Columbia, both in the student body and the faculty. If you feel alone, or desperate, reach out. Walk into a random dorm room, or in a random professor's office, and talk, or just cry.



    But don't take your own life. Please.

  28. Health Services Rules  

    Granted that there are some psychologist there that suck, all you have to do is request for a change of psychologist. Don't worry about hurting their feelings, they are there to take care of you, they won't be running off to see a psychologist of their own if you leave them for another. I was dealing with some MAJOR familial issues in the middle of the semester and found myself feeling semi-suicidal at times. Things were hectic, and a lot of it had to do with Columbia's bureacracy. After flying halfway across the world to attend school here, I was denied couple's housing and forced to leave my wife overseas. To you single folks that might not seem like a big deal, but it was a tremendous hardship for me and had me in a severe state of depression. Thank God I spoke up and voiced my concerns to a few administrators who helped work out the housing issue for me, and enabled me to be reunited to my wife. I also began visiting health services. At first I felt like what the fuck am I doing here? I feel like a nut for being here. But in the end I said, fuck it, I needed someone to vent to , about things that I didn't feel like venting about even to close friends. Though I didn't feel like the psychologist "cured" me of any illness or mental disease, it was like a moment to breath and just get shit off my chest. You'd be amazed at how powerful voicing what's on your mind can be to self analysis and retrospection. That being said, I think Columbia has an extremely strong support system, though it may be trying in many ways, a little talking will get you a long way. Most of the administrators that I've spoken to have been cool. I've had to bump heads with one or two, but all that means is try door three.

  29. Prefrosh

    My condolences to Richard's family and friends.



    I am concerned, however. Is Columbia really that much of a high-stress environment? A few months ago I suffered from a bout of depression because of all the stress of senior year (no, it was not one of the easiest years of high school, people are liars). While I never had suicidal thoughts, I can't imagine college will be any easier. Is depression a huge problem at Columbia?

    • alum05

      RIP Richard. My deepest condolences to the Ng family and friends..



      I think it's too early to be making any assumptions when none of the possible causes of death (ie foul play, accident, etc) have been completely ruled out. It's very possible that it may *not* have been suicide, and that Richard Ng was really more well-adjusted than we're thinking.



      Columbia (in my recent experience) was never a "hand-holding" school... the "resources" to help you get through tough times are there, but you have to make the effort to find them and utilize them. I had no idea where CU counseling services was until this story broke, and I'm not sure how many students would seriously make their way up to the 8th floor of Lerner to seek the help they need. Only a handful of my professors ever said "Please contact me if you have any problems with your paper or these deadlines, my office is always open if you want to talk, etc" Of course, that's just one person's experience, and perhaps other students have had the good fortune to have more professors more receptive to their needs or concerns.



      There are so many reasons why you could be depressed at Columbia and so many of them have nothing to do with the school itself. You could find yourself hating city life, having self-image issues, having family problems, having relationship trouble. But you could also be dissatisfied with your classes, unable to find real friends you can lean on when you're down, frustrated with the ins and outs of campus life.



      I'm not saying that I think it's a professor or administrator's sole responsibility to keep students happy at all times. Nor are they required to cater to each student's personal needs or problems. But the slightest gesture of understanding or compassion could make a tiny difference, or all the difference, even a difference between life or death.



      Regardless, I hope that they get to the bottom of this. And I hope that Columbia will keep asking "Could this have been prevented? If so, how so? How can we address this? How can we change this? How can we improve the odds of reaching troubled students and getting them the help they need before it's too late?"

  30. dwaidx

    Police believe Ng commited suicide over his grades. Newsday reports that friends told police that "Ng had done poorly in at least one class and would not have been able to graduate Wednesday on time with the rest of his class."

    I'm sure foul play by anyone other than prof/TAs.

    • J Train

      I heard the exact opposite of this - that he was doing just fine.



      Regardless of why, my deepest condolences to the Ng family. It's terrible to lose a child. Every 22-year-old has so much to live for, and while I never knew him, I was told Richard was a really great guy, a nice kid. RIP Richard.

  31. GSer

    GS students just received an official email. Would it kill them to at least spell his name right? There's really no excuse here.



    ---



    Dear GS Students,

    I know that many of you have heard about the death of Richard Eng, a SEAS student, on the local news. I thought it best to share with you the information that has to my office from our colleagues at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences concerning his death. As you may know, Richard, a senior, had been missing for several days before he was found.



    As a community we mourn the loss of one of our members and send sincerest condolences to Richard's family and friends. Your advisor, the chaplain's office, as well as counselors at CPS are available to provide support and counseling to any of our students who are affected by this tragedy.



    Sincerely,

    Mary McGee

    Dean of Students

    • Sanctimony

      Why is everyone so sanctimonious about this? Typos happen. Suicides happen. This is horrible and wrong and a terrible thing for Ng's family and the university community, but it doesn't betray some huge indifference and failure on the part of Columbia.

  32. rip richard  

    interesting time magazine article on suicides in colleges: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1194020-1,00.html

  33. greatly sorry for the family  

    Suicides in college are pretty wide-spread, implying that it's not necessarily a problem with our university alone. And what is the University going to do? Send psychologists to your dorm every week to see if you are happy? Prevent students from going to the NYC bridges? People need to get a grip on reality and realize that there is not much that can be done in these kinds of situations in regards to preventative measures. The psychologists and psychiatrists are always there for you if you are willing to step through the door. And having spoken to some of them for help, they are a great bunch of people and they do want to nudge you back on to your feet.

    • Yermom

      One of the characteristics that Columbia shares with the "real world" is the fact that we are in fact our brothers' keepers. We need to notice others' happiness and unhappiness. Once you are out of university and working or doing whatever, you will find that whatever institutions, jobs, workplaces... you are in, it is up to the people populating them to care for each other. I saw suicide attempts when I was in graduate school in another country very many years ago, but I also saw people prevent them by gathering to protect vulnerable friends. At the end of the day, caring for other human beings is something that is each of our responsibility.

  34. anon

    If you look through the Newsday article, it does not mention that Richard was not going to graduate. In fact, it says "he would have graduated yesterday." Please don't misreport the facts.

  35. Y. El Gabbani

    I feel no need to post anonymously to say that this whole situation is very disturbing for me. I feel terrible for Richard's family and friends, and cannot imagine what they are going through. Since I don't know what Richard was dealing with, I am not going to pretend that this is directly related to his situation, but as someone who lives with clinical depression and has taken the year off that Columbia offers for such situations I am appalled at the inanity of comments made by my fellow Columbians regarding this matter. For those of you who have posted either that individuals suffering from mental illness just "can't hack it" or that Columbia is so good about offering services to these students, I encourage you to reconsider your perspective. Mental illness is as debilitating and genuine as physical illness and with appropriate treatment people with mental illnesses of all sorts of types can live healthy and happy lives. However while Columbia provides some services to help students faced with these difficulties, these services certainly have room for improvement. For instance, students are only permitted a certain number of visits at CPS and then are expected to find their own therapists and psychiatrists and this may cost more than students can afford even with the optional extended health coverage of Columbia. Furthermore, should a student who has used all of their CPS visits be feeling very unstable he/she no longer has anywhere to turn to for help on campus. Beyond that, I have found that CPS workers are generally very eager to focus on talk therapy, where the patient talks about themselves and their family and their past and the therapist tries to get the patient to engage the root causes of feelings of depression, anxiety, or hopelessness. Given the limited amount of sessions that students are entitled to at CPS, this type of therapy is unlikely to really help them deal with the day to day pressures of attending a competitive and demanding university, and it is far more likely that if CPS were to offer some type of behavioral therapy to deal with the consequences of and responses to such feelings, students would benefit more from the services offered. While a measure of behaviorally-oriented programs have been introduced, such as the ADHD group that meets through ODS, these are generally found in group settings where seriously troubled students may feel very uncomfortable. There are a number of other ways that Columbia could improve counseling in general, but this forum is not an appropriate one for laying out this type of plan and I merely wanted to point out a few things that I feel should be considered before we get into heated debates about why or why not some people may feel that the environment at Columbia could be unhealthy or at least unhelpful. With regards to the Columbia community in general, while I have found that many of my friends and a couple of professors have come to understand the types of pressures that I deal with beyond academics, one need only read the postings in this thread to understand why people suffering from metal illnessses whether mild or severe do not speak up about their problems. We work just as hard as everyone else both in classes and in our private lives. To have our fellow students paint us as weak or defective and our professors respond to our occassional inability to cope as though we had just tried to use the dog-ate-my-homework excuse, I find it unsurprising that some of us feel the need to keep silent or, worse still, to disappear entirely.

    Again, I cannot begin to understand the sadness that Richard's friends and family feel right now, and I don't presume to know what he was going through or why he was taken from those who love him. I only know that, at least for me, graduation was a bittersweet experience and I cannot help but look on my own success with great sadness about those Columbians who were not there to share in that joy, whether they were no longer with us due to suicide or death from "unknown causes" or simply because they did not feel that they could remain at Columbia through to graduation while juggling the demands of academic and personal life in the context of psychological stress. My hope is that I am not alone in seeing the sadness of this situation, and future classes and those who work with them will not ignore it or, worse still, continue to ignore/belittle the realities that so many students DO live with and thereby encourage individuals with problems to stay silent.

  36. I keep wondering if

    this wasn't suicide.

  37. minority opinion  

    If he was forced to do it, or if he suffered from some chemical mental disorder, then all my sympathies to his family and all those who knew him. Countless "could have's" and "what if's" will be said.

    Otherwise-

    If he was just overwhelmed by finals or life... Has it occured to anyone the indescribable torment he put his family and friends through? What about his mother, who spent 22 years raising this guy and paying for his tuition- all her hopes and dreams and aspirations for her son was for nothing. Imagine her running around the city for ten days asking anyone and everyone if her son was sited. What about his friends? Coming back to your dorm every night to see your friend on a flyer? Did it affect their studying for finals? Did they lose sleep? Why give sympathy to a person who has selfishly made others suffer with him? Or a person who has quit on himself and given up any potential he had as human being.? Religious or atheist, why would anyone deny one's own mortality, the one thing in the entire world that is truly one's own?

    To say that "nobody would miss me if I killed myself" is likewise narrow-minded. Look at the people he's hurt. Everyone posting on this story is hurting because of him. Almost everyone on this campus has been negatively affected. Whether or not we knew him, we still have our own individual humanity, and the death of anyone torments us all.

    • suicide does not imply selfishness  

      One kills oneself when the pain of one's continued existence exceeds one's ability to cope with said pain. Consideration for others' feelings are not likely to come into play.


  38. There is no reason to think

    this was suicide. There was no note, no apparent motive. Maybe there isn't a murder motive either, but the whole thing seems very fishy.

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