LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — USC is mourning the loss of several students this semester, but they have not all died of suicide, the university’s president, Carol Folt, said in a statement.
In a letter sent to USC students, parents and faculty over the weekend, Folt noted eight students had died since the fall semester began in the last week of August — two from unknown causes over the weekend. That number increased to nine when, just a day later, authorities said they were investigating a suspicious death at an off-campus housing facility near campus.
Around 2 p.m., officers from the USC Dept. of Public Safety responded to a welfare check and discovered the deceased. Officers then called 911.
The investigation went into the night, with authorities interviewing people who live in the complex.
Folt, in her letter just one day prior, said the losses are devastating and heartbreaking for the school.
But in a letter to parents, 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 the letter.
USC’s chief health officer, Dr. Sarah Van Orman, said the university believes the deaths happened off-campus.
Speculation over the deaths has been rampant on the campus.
“I’m glad the university recognized it and is kinda 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,” she 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.