Friends said they were shocked and confused by the death, which occurred around 5:30 p.m. at Mount Auburn Hospital, where Smith had been rushed by ambulance an hour earlier.
Smith had sent an e-mail to one of her friends at 3 p.m. that made clear her plans for suicide. After reading the e-mail, the friend raced to Smith’s Winthrop House room while others notified authorities.
The Harvard University Police Department responded to the scene shortly before 4 p.m. and called for rescue units.
The medical examiner is still investigating the exact cause of death, but police ruled out foul play from the beginning. If Smith’s death is ruled a suicide, she would be the 12th Harvard undergraduate or graduate student to commit suicide since 1990.
Smith’s closest friends said she left individual letters to friends and family in one of her roommate’s rooms. She also indicated how her possessions should be distributed, they said.
Those who saw Smith just days before her death said she seemed her usual self.
Melissa M. Lo ’04, one of her roommates, said she seemed to be happy with her classes when they last spoke in a routine conversation about the weather on Thursday night.
“She seemed to be fine,” Lo said. “I think she was listening to music, and it seemed upbeat.”
Natalia B. Bedoya ’04 said Smith was acting “totally normal” during their Italian class on Friday morning.
Friends also said Smith was making plans for the near future. One friend said Smith sent her an e-mail Friday morning asking her to go out for crepes and cider that night.
She had also discussed a skiing trip over intersession and a trip to Italy or Germany over spring break.
“But at the same time, she was making other plans,” one friend said. “There was a parallel thought process, but one was hidden.”
Tutors went door-to-door Friday evening to inform students that there had been a death in the House. About 100 friends and members of the Harvard community met in the House library Friday evening to share memories of her and to hear about support services available.
Winthrop House also held meetings and counseling sessions Saturday and Sunday afternoons for grieving students.