Luchang Wang ’17 died Tuesday in an apparent suicide. Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway informed the Yale community of the news in a campus-wide email shortly before 6 p.m. Tuesday evening. Wang was 20 years old.

Wang died in California, according to Holloway’s email. Comments on a public Facebook thread posted on Tuesday by those who knew Wang indicated that she had recently purchased a ticket to San Francisco, Calif. for a flight that was scheduled to land Tuesday morning.

Friends, classmates and family began to search for Wang Tuesday afternoon after a troubling post appeared on her Facebook page at 1:26 p.m. The effort quickly turned into a campus-wide search.

At 2 p.m., a public Facebook status authored by Tammy Pham ’15 told Yale students in New Haven to search high-rise buildings, school buildings and public areas for signs of Wang. Students began to comment, adding locations that they had searched, some even venturing to East Rock to look for their friend.

Silliman College Master Judith Krauss sent an email to the Silliman community shortly after 3 p.m. noting that both she and Silliman Dean Jessie Hill were aware of what she described as a “troubling Facebook message.” Krauss asked students with additional information to contact her directly. The email did not name Wang or the details of the investigation.

“I’m writing to let you know that we are aware and in touch with the appropriate individuals in an attempt to gather more information so that we can give assistance,” Krauss said in the email.

During this time, Yale Police officers went door-to-door in Silliman asking students if they had seen a woman fitting Wang’s description.

At 3:06 p.m., according to Facebook updates, students close to the investigation were informed that she last used her Yale ID to swipe into Silliman two days ago. At 3:17 p.m., the Yale Police Department told the same students that they could stop their searches in New Haven.

Around this time, students discovered that Wang had booked a flight to San Francisco, Calif.

After the YPD closed the search, a collection of students thanked others for their support.

“Thank you to everyone who went out searching today,” Pham wrote on Facebook at 3:56 p.m. “It is at least comforting to know that we can rally such a strong force when the time comes. Crossing fingers, praying, waiting for better news.”

However, in a 5:52 p.m. email, Holloway delivered the “saddening news” of Wang’s death.

“It is my very sad duty to tell you that Luchang Wang, Silliman ’17, is presumed to have died earlier today in California,” Holloway wrote. “The California Highway Patrol has been in touch with the Yale Police and reports no evidence of foul play nor any indication of an accident. It appears that Luchang may have taken her own life.”

Karen Peart, deputy press secretary for the Office of Public Affairs and Communication, said in an email to the News that University administrators were informed by officials in California of the “apparent suicide” of a sophomore female.

The California Highway Patrol and the San Francisco Police Department could not be reached for comment.

The YPD referred requests for comment to the Office of Public Affairs and Communications, who declined to comment on the details of the investigation.

Later Tuesday evening, students from all residential colleges were invited to Krauss’s house for a gathering, where both Holloway and University President Peter Salovey were present.

In his email, Holloway also informed students that Yale Mental Health and Counseling Services would have professional counselors available at 55 Lock St., the Yale Health Center, until 11 p.m. After that, there would be a counselor on call at 203-432-0123. Holloway also pointed to the Chaplain’s Office in Bingham Hall as a resource for students.

Finally, Holloway pointed to other students and members of the community as a resource for those affected by the news.

“This is a very difficult time for those who knew Luchang, and our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends,” Holloway wrote. “I ask you to focus on one another and offer support at this sad time.”

  • GBC

    We all wish mental illness could be treated like physical illness – with compassionate doctors and effective medication. It must be scary for patients to undergo explicitly mind-altering treatment; their minds are their best assets. Perhaps it is easy to say at such a distance that I would be willing to undergo such treatment to save my life – but I am not sure that I would do it “just” to be happy. As various therapies for depression and other disorders develop, their use and misuse, and effect on agency and personhood, is likely to be “the big question” in philosophy. In the meantime all we can do is wish or pray for the good health of ourselves, our family and our friends.

  • trollalert

    This brings tears to my eyes. Thank you to her friends and the fantastic Yale community that stepped up for the search. All we can do is wonder why. Absolutely terrible. RIP Luchang.

  • MM

    Luchang will be sorely missed. Depression is a terrible illness, and it was terrible to see it take her life from her.

  • Tammy Pham

    Thank you, again, to all those who went out in search of Luchang today. A special thank you to all the individuals who were in contact with her parents and the police throughout this search. While I was clicking away on my FB status, these people were the ones who were truly helping the search move forward.

    Please be mindful that while suicide is an inherently public act, the circumstances behind it are strictly private. Although those close to her may have some idea of what was going through her mind, they should not feel obligated to speak on her behalf–please respect the privacy of Luchang and her loved ones by not probing or speculating unnecessarily.

    Nevertheless, I understand the desire for answers–even if there aren’t any–as it is a difficult time for many of us. My door is always open for those who would like to discuss their own thoughts and feelings, or who would like to sit silently in the company of others.

    Wishing everyone strength in these cold and dark times — Tammy

  • tutturu4life

    Small things we can do to help at Yale:

    Talk to people who are lonely. Talk to that person in your college who never speaks up. If it’s a group conversation, involve everyone in the group, so no one feels left out.

  • CAB

    I was so deeply saddened to read about the untimely death of a Yale student and to think of how tormented she must have felt. My heart goes out to her family and friends.

  • warcolleger

    My thoughts are after the more recent blog. We have a problem that is systemic and is percolating through higher education. Let some college president take the lead–no more blue ribbon committees, suicide awareness days, etc. This unutterably tragic. NO ONE has reason to commit suicide. NO ONE. This woman was obviously a pearl of great price. “May the angels lead her into Paradise . . .”

    • aaleli

      I disagree. I think there is a very small percentage of people in so much physical pain, dying from cancer or some other painful illness, for which even morphine does not grant a reprieve, who simply cannot tolerate that pain another second. I realize this was not that circumstance.

  • George

    This is absolutely tragic. Yale needs to seriously step up and accept that mental health should be treated like physical health. As long as Yale continues its long history of not investing the necessary resources to do so and prioritizes its image over the wellbeing of its students, more and more Yalies may find themselves in hopeless situations like these.

    http://yaledailynews.com/weekend/2014/01/24/we-just-cant-have-you-here/

  • Colleen Craig

    Heartbroken for her family, and the pain she must have suffered. What an absolutely radiant looking young woman. Depression is clearly no respecter of brilliance or compassion or talent. The gifted David Foster Wallace struggled for years, and ended his own life. One of my dearest friends, a man beloved by all, an altruist with a wonderful family and not a financial concern in the world, ended his life four years ago. We’re still trying to come to terms with this. I did not know Luchang – I’m the parent of a recent graduate. But I nevertheless mourn her death – a light gone too soon from the world; a loss for all. Deepest deepest sympathies to the Yale community, and those who knew her and loved her.

  • Chemist

    The road is lonely, cold and steep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    But inches to go if I FINALLY sleep.

    R.I.P.

    Your child was lovely, smart but ASLEEP,
    Although she would have fruits to reap,
    And tears down my cheek when I weep,
    And tears down my cheek when I weep.

    节哀