Narcisse ’12 died of drugs, autopsy shows

Updated, 3:49 p.m. Andre Narcisse ’12 died from multiple drug toxicity, the Connecticut Medical Examiner’s Office said today.

Officials would not specify which drugs but ruled that Narcisse’s death was an accident.

Andre Narcisse ’12 at his graduation from Phillips Exeter Academy in 2008.
Vikas Velagapudi
Andre Narcisse ’12 at his graduation from Phillips Exeter Academy in 2008.

University spokesman Tom Conroy offered “our deepest sympathy” to Narcisse’s family and friends.

“The Yale community will continue to mourn his tragic passing and remember his selfless contributions to the life of the campus,” Conroy said in an e-mail. “Counseling and other services are available to any student who feels a need for additional support and follow up.”

Narcisse’s roommates found him unresponsive in his dorm room on the morning of Nov. 1. The Medical Examiner’s Office originally said toxicology tests could take six to eight weeks. When eight weeks passed, an official at the office changed the estimate to 12 weeks. In the end, it took 14.

John Sinard, vice-chairman of the state’s Committee on Medicolegal Investigations, told the News earlier this week that 90 percent of toxicology cases are resolved within 90 days. But he added that there could be many reasons for a further delay, including inadequate staffing, other priorities or simply the complex process of toxicology.

In his opening remarks at a memorial service for Narcisse last month, Branford College Master Steven Smith said Narcisse’s death has made the Yale community more aware of the fragility of life. He added that he hoped the service would celebrate the meaning of Narcisse’s life.

“Every life is a story,” Smith said. “His memory is a blessing.”

For the full story, see tomorrow’s News.

Past coverage of Andre Narcisse ’12:

“Prayers, songs at Narcisse’s funeral,” Nov. 9, 2009

“Peers remember Narcisse ’12 fondly,” Nov. 2, 2009



  • Yale ’08

    And after all the angry complaints when the YDN made a tacit connection between his death and the Safety Dance/Liquor Treating/Rise in Alcohol Poisoning on Campus.

    I hope this serves as a wake up call to Yale College as a whole.

  • yalemom

    Narcisse’s death has caused me to spiral into extreme moments of grief…and I never met this young man.

    As the mother of a freshmen at Yale, I have been very saddened by the horrific events this year has unfolded at Yale.

    Unfortunately, Yale will continue to see similiar regretful things happen if they do not enforce the laws for underage drinking, binging, and drug use.

    I have spoken with many at Yale about these issues with no real response. This is such an unfortunate tragedy that my heart is still aching for this young life.

    I beg the Yale community and administrators to please look into this major problem because it will only escalate.

  • @ all

    I totally agree with Yale’08. The reality is too many Yalies waste their time consuming alcohol and drugs when they could be doing more productive and socially healthy things.

  • Sensitivity

    Yale has had more than its share of sadness this year. Young people have been asked to rise to a level of sensitivity and maturity not often required of a modern campus. Yale Daily News has balanced professional mission effectively with this sensitivity, a difficult task even for a far more weathered staff.

  • ontheinside

    Yale will never enforce underage drinking or drug laws because it’ll ruin the futures of their kids. Thats all that Yale University needs “Drug Raid at Yale Univ!” Yale will always risk the safety of the kids to save name.

    Yalemom, I wish it was different but until more tragedies happen and recorded by the media, Yale wont risk their possible endowments.

    I think a group needs to band together and force Yale Univ as well as Yale Police to clean house. Not to sweep things under the rug and really crack down of drug issues.

  • ’13

    Yalemom, “enforcing laws for underage drinking” is not going to prevent tragic deaths like Andre’s. If Yale begins to punish students who are caught drinking, the alcohol consumption won’t stop; it will simply become more secretive. This means students won’t take roommates and friends with alcohol poisoning to the hospital or call freshman counselors for fear of being punished. Your so-called “solution” will probably cost far more lives than it will save.

  • c’mon — Yale is one of the few institutions that actually seems to have a reasonable handle on drinking/drugs. at most schools, this kind of tragedy occurs with quite a bit more frequency. yale’s responsible position of treating alcohol/drug issues like the health problems that they are and not disciplinary problems cannot be seen as anything either than an exemplary set of policies that has led to a drastic reduction in deaths on campus over the past several decades.

    narcisse’s death is sad. unfortunately it exemplifies the sort of thing yale is trying to teach — drugs/drinking can have serious consequences. way more serious than a ticket or sanction or suspension or expulsion or jailtime or whatever punishment you can dream up. you could die.

    enforce all the laws you want but you’re completely out of touch with reality if you think that the ability to take someone to DUH without any of the parties facing disciplinary consequences hasn’t saved lives.

    if anything, yale ought to do more to encourage students to take action when they’re concerned. i’d rather go get a suitemate/friend out of DUH in the morning who’s pissed at me for what they thought was an unnecessary trip than to not have that suitemate/friend at all.

    rip andre

  • yale ’12

    I don’t think enforcing alcohol laws more strictly will help, all that does is make you drink more the one time you get the chance to. I think that this, while decreasing the frequency of binging, will increase the magnitude and hence increases the change of death (as magnitude is much more dangerous).
    Also enforcing stricter rules will make students even more reluctant to seek help from medical professionals when needed.

    Of course, drugs need to be enforced. There is no reason for leniency when it comes to stuff like ecstasy or meth. Yale should put more effort into keeping the campus drug-free.

    In my opinion, Yale should educate students about the warning signs of alcohol poisoning, the dangers of mixing drugs with alcohol (or even red bull – France and Norway banned Red Bull due to the potentially fatal consequences of mixing it with alcohol) and, most importantly, make sure students know how to deal with themselves and friends with acute alcohol intoxication.

    As an international student, I am appauled by how some students drink here. Where I’m from people are allowed to drink at the age of 18 (16 for cidre and beer); most of my friends back home drink alcohol in moderation, whereas here many seem to drink to get drunk and “have a good time” because they were “never able to do this before coming to Yale”.
    Being drunk is shunned upon in most European countries, here at Yale being drunk seems to be a sort of entertainment, while alcohol seems to have the thrill of being a forbidden fruit.

  • New Havener

    How, exactly, did the Medical Examiner, after a lengthy delay, determine that although the cause was
    “multiple drug toxicity”, that he is certain that Narcisse’s death was an accident.”

    Does “an accident” mean only that it wasn’t murder, or does it also preclude the possibility of suicide?

    This whole thing is weird, and leads to the suspicion that there was a cover up of some kind, possibly orchestrated by Yale.

  • actualstudent12

    yalemom and ontheinside, i think you’re way off base. if yale wasn’t so lenient, we’d see a lot more of this. students at EVERY college drink. deal with it. and theres NOTHING the administration can do about it.

    yale realizes this, and encourages its students to actually go to health services when they have a drinking etc. related issue, rather than being scared to get help because of the consequences (which is exactly what would happen if they cracked down) to say that yale should enforce laws more and that will solve anything is incredibly naive

    rather than focusing on what the administration can do to force its students to drink, use drugs, etc. less, we should instead be looking at what the administration can do to make students WANT to do these things less, and want them to be responsible in their choices, rather than relying on drugs and alcohol after a bad week. (plenty of people drink responsibly, im not saying that its always an issue, just that there are too many students who use substances to get through the week and become dependent on them, rather than just because they enjoy them). Things like walden peer counseling just dont work, and we need to find better systems that will, so that when people need help and are struggling, they have an -actual- support system that they’ll be comfortable turning to.

  • Michael Liuzzi

    please everybody, he is not a part of your cause celebre.

  • Gary

    None of you really know what kind of place Andre was in that the time–I don’t either. But let’s not make this a symbol for a broader issue. Andre was an individual with unique issues. There is no “trend reflected.” It’s just a tragedy. Yale should have better SUPPORT SYSTEMS in place, not harsher prosecution.

    Even at a lenient school like Yale, punitive drug and alcohol policies make it difficult for students to get help.

  • @12

    Andre Narcisse died in his dorm room with drug overdose. There was no comment from Yale administration. Annie Le was murdered while working in her lab. There was no comment form Yale administration.

    Why should Yale have better support system for those individuals with unique issues? It is not going to happen again anyway. Please do not interrupt our happy hour!

  • ashamed

    The YDN should not have left this post open to comments. For those self-righteous commenters who are dishonoring the memory of a fine young man, please keep in mind that drug-related death does not automatically connote a drug-related accident. You have no idea what went on that night, and should be ashamed of your presumption.

  • Hieronymus

    I in no way wish to, as #14 put it, “dishonor the memory of a fine young man”; however, decrying “self-righteous commenters” for decrying drug use, however intentioned, seems a little topsy-turvy.

    Use this incident for positive: learn from Narcisse’s mistake.

  • Makes you wonder…

    Why is Yale so resistant to releasing causes of death? It’s unusual that multiple young men would simply “die in their sleep,” but three Yalies have in the last year and a half. With Andre Narcisse, at least we can attribute his death to vague “drugs”; but what about Andrew Liotta ’10 or Scott Robinson ’11? Cause of death is either (supposedly) undetermined or left vague. We students should be trusted to face the fact that yes, sometimes college students make bad–in fact, fatal–choices. Sometimes people commit suicide. Ignoring such things isn’t going to make unpleasant truth go away quietly. On the contrary, knowledge of the truth may have a salutary effect, encouraging other students to be more responsible or alert to danger signs. We’re not mindless bunnies here at Camp Yale who will mope and deflate if confronted with–*gasp*–real-world truths. Have others noticed this reticence about cause of death? Protecting the families could be a concern, but these men are our classmates and truth should be a priority. The YDN staffers do a great job in general, but they didn’t seem to press very hard for answers about Robinson and Liotta-at least there is some closure with Narcisse.

  • Re:1 et Al

    Sure, there was a strong undercurrent on campus that this tragedy may be related to drugs or alcohol, but noone knew then, and we still do not know all the details. It seems entirely possible that perhaps prescription pills were mixed improperly or otc drugs could have been taken with prescriptions. Add these situations with a preexisting minor condition – a heart flutter, irregular heartbeat, etc. Perhaps I am an apologist defending to the very last, but focus on defending the YDN here seems kind of wack, yo. Let us treat this situation with compassion and sure, we could stand to be more careful.

  • roger huzendubel

    Kids are going to do drugs, and some will die from it. I would be willing to bet he was not alone when he died. find out who he was with.

  • Pat

    Alcohol is a narcotic, a serious drug that can cause extreme intoxication, overdose, addiction etc. It may be legal but can be every bit as dangerous and deadly as heroin. It’s time we start calling alcohol related deaths overdoses because this is what they are. You don’t see the media saying someone died of heroin poisoning so why do we treat alcohol differently, just because it’s legal? If you die from the consumption of too much alcohol you died of a drug overdose, not poisoning, not “toxicity” but a drug overdose.

  • joey2cents

    Sorry about the dudes’ demise. RIP , and prayers to the family.
    But if i may add ( see name above)
    We are not in an era of prohibition.Gone are the days of infamous crusading old spinsters who railed against the evils of hootch. You recall running her out of town, after you poured beer all over her and then repe… oh sorry.
    But if it’s a dry campus , A COLLEGE CAMPUS. and one can’t obtain a simple can of brew w/o big brother pat downs then these students might turn their experimental minds to wacky , weird drugs of long lost 60’s past or some new lab created concoction.
    The booze they do obtain is probably the worst rotgut / moonshine / can left behind Wilburs old shed in West Virginia.
    And good lord that stuff will kill ya .