USC Community Mourning Deaths of 9 Students this Semester

CNS News
November 12, 2019 - 9:54 am

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The USC community today was mourning the deaths of nine students this semester, a figure that is greater than the total for each of the two previous academic years.

University President Carol Folt -- in a letter sent to USC students, parents and faculty over the weekend -- said eight students died since the fall semester began in the last week of August, two from unknown causes.

The number increased to nine on Monday, when a USC student was found dead in at The Dunes apartment complex in University Park, according to CBS2.

According to the Los Angeles Police Department, the man, about 28, was found dead Monday afternoon in the 1200 block of West 29th Street, but no foul play was suspected.

One of the students who died this semester was freshman Matthew Olson of Newport Beach, who was killed while walking on the 110 Freeway early on Aug. 26.

Causes of death for all nine students vary and include suicide, according to the university.

According to the Daily Trojan newspaper, there were six student deaths during each of the last two academic years. Twelve students passed away during the 2016-17 academic year and four during the 2015-16 academic year, the newspaper reported.

Folt, in her letter, said the losses are devastating and heartbreaking for the school. She said that it is "not correct" that most of the deaths were the result of suicide.

"These tragic losses have resulted from a number of different causes. In some cases the cause of death is still undetermined, and in others loved ones do not want details disclosed," Folt said in her letter.

Speculation over the deaths has been rampant on the campus.

"I'm glad the university recognized it and is kind of bringing this issue to light," one student said.

USC senior Nicole Ricken says the recent deaths have really hit close to home.

"I've been acquaintances with at least four of the students who passed away," Ricken said. "One of them was one of my closest friends."

Students in need of immediate help were encouraged to call USC's 24- hour wellness line at (213) 740-WELL (9355). Anyone concerned about a friend or fellow student can communicate their concern through Trojans Care For Trojans.