virginia tech student's cry for help

Here's another story on Daniel Kim, the 21-year-old senior at Virginia Tech who committed suicide last month, shooting himself in the head while he sat in his car in a Target parking lot: At Va. Tech, Near Silence For a Student's Anguished Cry.

The suicide came after at least one and possibly two students at other colleges had contacted Virginia Tech to say their friend had bought a gun and was talking about killing himself:
"Daniel has been acting very suicidal recently, purchasing a $200 pistol and claiming he'll go through with it," wrote Shaun Pribush, a senior at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., in an e-mail to Virginia Tech's health center. "We are very concerned for his safety. . . . please forward this to who can give him the best care."
Daniel was apparently quite active online, and had many friends and acquaintances through chat rooms and World of Warcraft. It seems that some of them had the sense to see the warning signs and contact health officials at Virginia Tech. However, no one from Virginia Tech's counseling contacted Daniel.

You'd think after the shootings last April, the school would be much more responsive to even the most minor warning signs. The school reportedly has written protocols requiring that any student who makes "any gesture or reference to suicide... must be seen by the psychologist on call." But instead, the university referred the matter to police, who drove by Daniel's apartment, asked if he was okay, and reported back that Daniel said he was fine. But he wasn't fine.
"I know one thing," William Kim tells me as we sit in the tiny back office at the convenience store he owns in the District's Palisades neighborhood. "I never had a chance to save my son. If the school isn't going to do anything, at least let me try. If they had just called me, everybody would drop everything, close the store and go down there, 150 miles an hour. When you talk to your friends like this, this is a cry: 'Help me.' Any psychologist knows that. Danny waited five weeks after the e-mail. That's what's killing me. Nobody gave me the chance."
The saddest part of the article deals with Daniel's parents, who really had no idea, and are upset that the school never informed them of the situation. They've been looking through his life online, trying to make sense of what drove him to his death. The reality is, they'll probably never truly understand it.

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