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University Responds to Death

UHS Talking to Friends of Apparent Suicide Victim

By Marion B. Gammill, Crimson Staff Writer

University administrators and officials are moving quickly to help students cope with the apparent suicide of a College junior.

L. Fred Jewett '57, dean of the College, said yesterday that Harvard would do whatever possible to comfort mourners of James P. Houghton '94, a 21-year-old psychology concentrator.

"We've especially alerted people in positions aware of this... to provide help and support to people who may need support," Jewett said.

Houghton died Sunday from a wound that police said was self-inflicted. The suicide was the first at Harvard since 1988.

Jewett said he discussed the situation with house senior tutors and the dean of freshmen at yesterday's meeting of the Administrative Board.

Jewett said he did not plan to call a large assembly or discussion.

And Currier House, of which Houghton was an affiliate, has no plans for a formal memorial service, according to Patricia Pepper, assistant to the Currier masters.

Houghton spent little time in Currier--he moved off campus sophomore year and never actually lived there.

Friends and acquaintances have been advised to talk to their tutors or mental health professionals at the University Health Services (UHS).

Dr. David S. Rosenthal '59, director of UHS, said that several of Houghton's friends had already come to the University's mental health services for help in dealing with the death.

"I've talked to proctors and tutors about it through Dean Jewett," he said. "Nothing is being done in a big way. Lots of things are being done in small groups. A lot of counseling is going on in the houses."

Dr. Randolph Catlin, chief of mental health services at UHS, has been helping to direct the UHS response. He said students must be assured that help is available.

"Often this is the first time someone in this age group has ever experienced someone dying," Catlin said. "The most important thing is being able to share feelings with someone."

Catlin said reactions to a suicide tend to swing to one of two extremes.

"[Some people] think 'My God, this could be me.' The other thing is a sense of loss...Some people say 'Why would anybody do that?" Catlin said.

Dr. Glen Mullin, a part-time psychiatrist at the Law School who was on call last weekend, has made himself available to students needing counseling, Catlin said.

Lowell House Senior Tutor Alexandra L. Barcus has also offered to talk to any student who asks for help.

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