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.”