Psychiatric Staff Tripled To Aid Grieving Students

University Doctor Meets With Victim's Family

University Health Services (UHS) tripled the number of psychiatric staff normally available to talk with students in response to Sunday's murder-suicide at Dunster House.

"We are anticipating there will be some calls by those upset by this. We will be having people standing by," said Randolph Catlin Jr., chief of UHS mental health services, in an interview yesterday.

Catlin said that six mental health professionals were available to talk with students yesterday. Usually only one or two people are on duty.

Several members of the UHS mental health staff conducted a meeting with Dunster House residents Sunday afternoon. They stressed their accessibility and urged students to talk with counselors, house tutors and friends.

President Neil L. Rudenstine, Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III, Dunster House Master Karel F. Liem and Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57 also attended the meeting.

Mental health professionals have also been counselling the family of murder victim Trang Phuong Ho '96, Catlin said.

"I went to her home on the day of the incident and tried to help her mother and her sister," he said. "We are continuing to provide support to them."

Catlin said that the mental health staff was "eager to participate" in the weekend's emergency shifts.

"I was able to call four or five people who all volunteered to come in," Catlin said. "Two people offered to fly back [from their vacations]."

Catlin said psychiatric officials are going to attend a staff meeting this week at a primate lab where Sinedu Tadesse '96, who authorities say committed the murder-suicide, worked during the academic year.

In an interview last month, Catlin said that Harvard averages about two suicides a year.

This year three undergraduates--including Tadesse--and one recent graduate who maintained close ties with Harvard, haave committed suicide.

Among those were two besides Tadesse who were affiliated with Dunster House: Kathryn L. Tucker '94, who still lived in the Boston area and remained close to undergraduate friends, and Ansgar Hansen '97, a Dunster resident at the time of his death.

Both suicides occurred in April.

In January, Dominic J. Armijo '95, a resident of Kirkland House, took his life in his dorm room.

UHS mental health services does not provide long-term care in the form of regular--for example, weekly--appointments, although there is some flexibility to that policy, Catlin said.

He added that UHS's mental health division sought to avoid booking its psychiatrists to an extent that would prevent them from seeing students on an emergency basis.

Catlin said that regardless of available counseling, suicides are difficult to prevent because victims often do not confide in others.

"Suicide's so hard to know. So many times people do become suicidal without letting people know," he said.

Catlin said UHS mental health services will continue its student outreach programs, designed to make undergraduates aware of the resources available to them, next year.