A Georgetown University freshman was pronounced dead late Saturday night at Georgetown University Hospital in what the university is calling “an apparent suicide.”

At approximately 11 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11, the body of Jeremy Dorfman (COL ’06) was found in his Village C Residence Hall room by several other students, one of whom called the Department of Public Safety. Shortly thereafter, Georgetown Emergency Response edical Service transported Dorfman, 18, to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly before midnight.

The Metropolitan Police Department also arrived on the scene, and its investigation is still open pending results of an autopsy and determination of the cause of death by the medical examiner’s office, according to Sergeant Guy Poirier of PD’s Homicide and Violent Crimes Unit.

University officials declined to disclose the precise details surrounding Dorfman’s death.

According to Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson, Dorfman had a history of mental illness. “We are aware that Jeremy had some significant mental health concerns,” Olson said. “He had been seen by the staff at the counseling center.”

Assistant Vice President for Communications Julie Green Bataille released a statement to the media Sunday afternoon saying that “our thoughts and prayers go out to Jeremy’s family and friends and our entire campus community during this difficult time.”

Dorfman’s roommate, Joel Schubert (MSB ’06) described Dorfman as a reliable friend and considerate roommate. “Jeremy was a good friend and the model roommate. We never had any problems getting along. We were both flexible about sleeping hours and studying hours and we never had a conflict. He went out of his way to help myself as well as his other friends around him,” Schubert said. “He was simply a great guy to be around, whether it was at lunch, dinner, or at a party, or playing PlayStation.”

Dorfman was a graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, N.H., where he was a member of the crew team.

According to Interim University Chaplain Scott Pilarz, S.J., a memorial service for Dorfman has not yet been scheduled because the university “wants to see what kinds of plans his family makes” before making any decisions.

Acting Director of Counseling and Psychiatric Services Paul Steinberg, M.D., said that Dorfman’s case was the first suicide on Georgetown’s campus in 18 years.

News of Dorfman’s death spread quickly throughout the campus early Sunday morning, and by 1 a.m., approximately 350 students had gathered in the Village C Alumni Lounge for an impromptu meeting with university administrators and counseling support staff members. Pilarz, Associate Dean of Students Jeanne Lord, Steinberg and Student Association President Kaydee Bridges (SFS ’03) addressed the crowd, outlining the services made available by the university for anyone affected by Dorfman’s death.

Lord said the university would make arrangements for residents of the fourth floor of Village C West Y Wing who did not feel comfortable staying on the floor. Olson said that several students accepted the offer, receiving what he called “hotel accommodations.” Lord also told students that if they did not feel prepared to attend classes, the university would make arrangements with the academic deans’ offices and individual professors on their behalf. Olson said he was not aware of any students requesting such arrangements, but noted that the offer “still stands.”

Following the meeting, Pilarz held a prayer service in Dahlgren Chapel at approximately 2 a.m. and opened his office in the Healy building to members of the university community.

Dorfman’s parents were first notified by hospital staff early Sunday morning, and were then contacted by Vice President for Student Affairs Juan C. Gonzalez and Olson, according to Green Bataille. The Dorfmans, who live in Newburyport, Mass., arrived on campus Sunday morning, and have since returned to Massachusetts to make private memorial arrangements.

In a university-wide e-mail sent Sunday by Gonzalez and Olson, students were encouraged to take advantage of university resources for coping with the aftermath of Dorfman’s death, including Counseling and Psychiatric Services, the Office of Campus Ministry and Residence Life staff members, including resident assistants.

According to Pilarz, “any chaplain is available throughout the day and willing to work with students through this difficult time.” The Office of Campus Ministry employs Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim staff members. He also encouraged students to utilize the 22 chaplains in residence throughout the residence halls.

Steinberg, the acting director of CAPS, said that counseling from psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers is available to all students every day throughout the year between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. in the CAPS office on the first floor of Darnall Hall. For emergencies after business hours, both Steinberg and Charles Tartaglia, M.D., are available by calling 202.687.PAGE and asking for the counselor on call.

Bridges said that the GUSA office would remain open for students who did not want to engage any of the university’s other resources. “All that we can really do is be a resource for students,” Bridges said. She also said that in the coming days, GUSA will seek to work with Dorfman’s friends and freshman members of GUSA to plan a remembrance service once Dorfman’s family makes its memorial plans.

According to Steinberg, incidences of suicide are often preceded by symptoms of depression, which are marked by what he described as feelings of “hopelessness, helplessness or not feeling committed to life in some way.” He said that many suicidal individuals feel that “things will never get better,” exhibiting “all or nothing thinking.” Symptoms of depression also include extreme patterns of behavior, he said. Individuals often begin sleeping either too much or too little, or eating more or less than normal. He also said that individuals suffering from depression often lose enthusiasm and motivation. Steinberg said that if any members of the community suspect that anyone they know is showing signs of depression they should contact the university’s support services before confronting the individual.

If any individual discloses that he or she is contemplating suicide, he said, students should call 202.687.PAGE immediately and without hesitation. “Don’t fool around with that sort of thing,” he said. He also noted that individuals should not let fears of breaking secrecy promises to potentially suicidal individuals stop them from seeking professional assistance.

Steinberg said that there has not yet been an increase in the number of students seeking counseling because “people are still in a state of shock.”

Hoya Staff Writer Julie Wood contributed to this report.

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