… precisely how to do that…”

The suicide of a freshman at Yale – a spectacularly happy, brilliant, curious person by all accounts – provokes a thoughtful editorial at the Yale Daily News.

When a nineteen-year-old full of beans and with no apparent history of depression asphyxiates himself in a university lab, my suspicion is a sudden breakdown of some sort — an overwhelming psychotic episode. UD is reminded of another young, hip, funny, brilliant, scientist — Sam Roweis, who jumped from his New York University apartment balcony during a bad argument with his wife. Unlike most other university suicides among young people, which feature previous attempts and other forms of foreshadowing, these seemingly impulsive suicides (researchers distinguish between impulsive and non-impulsive suicides) point to some sudden flooding of the brain with unmanageable waves.

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5 Responses to ““At the end of last night’s vigil, Zach’s father spoke. ‘Don’t let this happen again,’ he said. We wish we knew…”

  1. Polish Peter Says:

    Thanks for noting this, UD. I’ve reached out to my freshmen who were classmates of his at TJ.

  2. Mike S. Says:

    “Unlike most other university suicides among young people, which feature previous attempts and other forms of foreshadowing…”

    That doesn’t seem to jibe with this older entry, where some evidence is presented to the effect that most suicides w/in the college age population are, in fact, of the impulsive variety.

    Since it was in the lab, one wonders if it were accidental. To this day no one is quite sure whether G.N. Lewis’ death by inhalation of HCN was intentional or accidental.

    I don’t trust university administrations at all, and they all pay the same small group of people for terrible advice, legal and otherwise, on the matter of violence perpetrated by students (including suicide). I figure they claim as the cause that which creates the least liability. If it’s an accident in lab, they are liable.
    If it’s the suicide of a student who had never before behaved in an unusual manner…

  3. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Mike S.: Good point. I guess, in writing that line, I was simply going over in my mind the nature of many of the university student suicides I’ve read and written about over the years, and many are among people who were already clearly disturbed. But you’re right about evidence that the impulsive type (not that the impulsive/non-impulsive distinction is as solid as all that) predominates.

    Until we know how the Yale student choked (was he found hanged?) we can’t be sure of suicide, I guess (I’m assuming, from the way it’s been written about, that there was no note); but my sense is that it’s true — that it was suicide.

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    You’re welcome, Polish Peter.

  5. University Diaries » A Kafkaesque Suicide Says:

    […] by the Sea,” talks about “the wild addiction not to be.” There are more of these seemingly motiveless suicides than you might […]

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