Coroner Rules Suicide in Kent State Student's Death

Christian O'Keeffe was struck and killed by a train in Kent May 27

The death of a Kent State University student in May has been ruled a suicide by the Portage County Coroner's Office.

Portage County Coroner Roger Marcial issued the ruling in the death of Christian O'Keeffe, 20, of Kent. He was killed May 27 when he was hit by a train on the CSX Transportation Co. tracks about 1 mile north of Middlebury Road.

"The determining factor was that there was a video from the train that showed his position on the tracks," a spokesperson for the coroner's office said.

The coroner's autopsy report shows O'Keeffe also had trace amounts of THC, the active chemical in marijuana, in his blood system. The physical cause of death was ruled blunt force trauma to the head.

The 2009 Theodore Roosevelt High School graduate studied poetry at Kent State.

At Kent State, he made the Dean's list in the fall 2011. In September 2011 O'Keeffe was among the outstanding undergraduate poets featured by the Wick Poetry Center. In April 2011 he won second place in the Wick Poetry Center undergraduate scholarship competition.

Funeral services were held in June.

O'Keeffe's death was the fourth Kent State student whose cause of death was ruled a suicide within the past year.

In April, university staff found 19-year-old Natalie J. Weber, of Cambridge, OH, dead in her residence hall room. Her death was ruled a suicide. Also in April, Leticia K. Nakibuka, 22, of Lake Street, shot herself on Vine Street after firing several rounds into the house at 1017 Vine St.

In November, Martin Alvord, 22, a Visual Communication Design student, committed suicide by lying down in front of a freight train near Towner's Woods park.

Artsy Peanut September 26, 2012 at 12:46 PM
I think it's unnecessary to make it public news when a death is ruled a suicide. It's nobody's business besides the police and the family/friends. It's hard enough for loved one's to deal with. They should be able to morn in peace without people wondering why the person didn't want to live anymore. It's not about shame. It's about peace. There is such a thing as too much information in the media. What purpose can it possibly serve for any of us to know this? I think it's only to satisfy people's morbid curiosity and sell news.
Wilburforce September 26, 2012 at 01:35 PM
I can not disagree with Artsy about this but I suppose when these deaths occur they must be investigated and publicly reported to explain they were not an accident or murder. I would suggest " it was determined by the coroner and law enforcement this was a suicide " would be enough information .
karen Schneider September 27, 2012 at 01:57 PM
I think the fact that it has been ruled a suicide is enought information. Specifics should be police and family only. this was very painful to read.


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