The death of Andre Narcisse ’12 in November was an accident caused by multiple drugs, a representative from the Connecticut Medical Examiner’s Office said Thursday.
University spokesman Tom Conroy offered “our deepest sympathy” to Narcisse’s family and friends upon hearing the news Thursday.
“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. He added that counseling and other services are available to students.
On the morning of Nov. 1, Narcisse’s roommates found him unresponsive in his Branford College dorm room, and emergency responders pronounced him dead that morning. Branford Master Steven Smith said knowing the cause of Narcisse’s death brings some relief and a sense of closure.
Citing office policy, an assistant to the medical examiner said she could not disclose what drugs were involved. According to state regulations, officials are only required to release that information to family members and law enforcement officials.
Members of Narcisse’s family could not be reached for comment Thursday.
“As a parent myself, my concern is for the family and their suffering,” Yale College Dean Mary Miller said in an e-mail Thursday night.
Narcisse’s death certificate does not list any underlying conditions that may have been a contributing factor. Authorities never suspected foul play.
It has taken more than 100 days for the cause of death to be released, after repeated postponements by the Medical Examiner’s Office. The 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.
Forensic security consultant and retired New Orleans police detective Larry Williams Sr. said, while he is not familiar with Narcisse’s autopsy specifically, the medical examiner’s findings could refer to illicit drugs as well as alcohol or prescription drugs, which have powerful psychoactive effects on the body, especially when used in combination with other narcotics.
“Especially in college, people take uppers to stay awake and study and then downers to relax and go to sleep,” Williams said. “Then you get into a dangerous cycle between the two, and the body can’t handle the mix.”
He added though that college students also experiment with illegal substances at higher rates than adults, so no possibility can be ruled out without knowing the exact substances.
Narcisse’s friends said the community should focus on his life.
“The manner of Andre’s death is unimportant,” Nick Simmons-Stern ’12 said. “What matters is the quality of his life.”
Council of Masters Chair Jonathan Holloway urged Yale students to offer support to those who were closest to Narcisse, and said he hopes others learn from the tragedy.
“We all hope and pray that something good comes out of it,” he said. “We hope it’s not just wind blowing through, that it’s not just forgotten about.”