William Sinclaire, Matthew Zika's Suicide on Cornell Campus: 6/Yr
Cornell students and teachers are shaken after the fifth and sixth death ruled suicide at their campus in Ithaca, NY.
Just last Thursday, the body of William Sinclaire, a sophomore at Cornell, was found in the gorge below the Thurston Avenue Bridge. The following day, Matthew Zika, a junior in the same department, jumped from the suspension bridge. His body has yet to be recovered, but the student is considered dead.
Back in February, the body of freshman Bradley Ginsburg was also found in the gorge. Guards are now posted on the bridge where these students leaped to their death.
As disturbing as the recent deaths are, they are just the latest of 10 by enrolled students this academic year, including deaths from illness, accident and no fewer than six ruled as suicides by the county medical examiner or still under investigation, according to campus officials.
Public Nature of Outdoor Campus Suicides
By national statistics, Cornell's suicide rate is not typically above average. According to officials, the suicides at Cornell draw more attention because of their public nature. “When someone dies by suicide in a gorge, it’s a very visible public act,” says Dr. Timothy Marchell, a clinical psychologist in Cornell’s campus health services department. "
Nicole Huynh, most recent girlfriend of last Friday's suicide, Matthew Zita, says she knew Zita was in trouble. Although he was typically happy and quick to laugh, his mental health began slipping little by little over recent weeks. She suspected he had suicidal thoughts, and encouraged him to seek counseling. He was surrounded by people that cared for him. She believes Zita's issues were not school related, but rather from earlier on in life.
David Skorton, president of Cornell since 2005, encourages students to seek help. On Monday and Tuesday, the president took out an ad in the school's newspaper, The Cornell Daily Sun, saying: “Your well-being is the foundation on which your success is built. If you learn anything at Cornell, please learn to ask for help.”