Officials confirm death of Abanto ‘06.5

Thursday, March 24, 2005

University officials Wednesday confirmed the death of Anthony Abanto ‘06.5, who was found in his New Pembroke 1 dorm room Tuesday evening.

Abanto’s death was an apparent suicide, according to a Providence Police report. A medical examiner’s report was not available Wednesday.

Abanto, a 22-year-old mathematics concentrator, was described by an NP1 resident as a quiet individual who kept to himself. He was a student at the Harrow School in England before attending Brown, according to a campus-wide e-mail from Dean of the College Paul Armstrong and Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services David Greene.

“It is a very difficult time. Our deepest support and sympathy goes to the family, but we know that students have also been affected … and our support goes to them as well,” said Margaret Klawunn, interim dean for campus life.

The University’s first priority Tuesday night and Wednesday was to assist those most directly affected by the death, she said.

The dean on call Tuesday night, Catherine Axe, coordinator of disability support services, met with residential peer leaders in New Pembroke and with residents of NP1 and encouraged them to spend the night with friends, Klawunn said, adding that all residents of the dorm found another place to stay.

Richard Bova, director of residential life, arranged alternate housing for the rest of the semester for students in NP1 who felt uncomfortable staying in the dorm, Klawunn said.

Klawunn said Carla Hansen, associate dean of the graduate school and student life and coordinator of the Women’s Peer Counseling program, met with residential peer leaders Wednesday to offer them advice about how to help students cope with the death and assist the RPLs directly involved in the tragedy.

Later Wednesday, representatives from Psychological Services and the offices of the Chaplains and Religious Life, Student Life and Residential Life met with residents of New Pembroke and students who had called a campus office seeking assistance, Klawunn said. New Pembroke residents received e-mails and notices underneath their doors informing them of the session, she added.

Student Life deans also contacted faculty members who have students directly involved in the tragedy to facilitate special arrangements for academic obligations, she said.

Although the University initially rushed to assist students most immediately impacted by the death, Klawunn stressed that on-campus resources are available to all students who need support.

The Office of Student Life, Chaplains’ Office and Psych Services will host a support session open to all community members today at 4 p.m. in the Memorial Room of Faunce House. Support services from all three offices are also available around-the-clock, Klawunn said.

“We want people to know that there are a lot of different offices working together to offer support to students … because people find comfort in different types of support,” she said.

“There is a broad range of responses that students might have to the death of a friend. People tend to experience many different emotions – sadness, guilt, denial, anger – and it is common for these emotions to come and go over a period of time,” wrote Belinda Johnson, director of Psych Services, in an e-mail to The Herald.

“There are several things students can do to help themselves during this difficult time: spending time with friends and talking about what they’re experiencing; taking care of themselves by eating and sleeping well; avoiding feeling pressure to respond in one particular way,” she wrote.


* The Office of Student Life, Office of the Chaplains and Religious Life and Psychological Services will host a support session today at 4 p.m. in the Memorial Room of Faunce House.

* Psych Services is making extra time available to students seeking support. Daytime appointments can be made by calling 863-3476, and after hours the clinician on call can be reached through Health Services at 863-3953.

* Chaplains can be reached at 863-2344 during business hours and through the Department of Public Safety at 863-3322 nights and weekends. The Chaplains’ Office also holds weekly bereavement sessions; interested students can call 863-2344.

* Suicide Prevention: If you need help for yourself or a friend, call Psych Services at 863-3476 or 863-3953 at night; a Student Life dean at 863-3145; or talk to a peer counselor. A 24-hour national crisis hotline is also available at (800) 273-TALK.