UPDATE: VCU student death ruled suicide

Police were called to the 700 block of W. Franklin Street (north of Monroe Park) at 11:30pm Sunday night after a female was found dead. VCU and Richmond Police are calling the death a suicide.

Grief counseling is available: 804.828.6200, details »


From the RPD:

The Richmond Police Department and VCU Police Department have conducted a death investigation after a body was found last night in the 700 block of West Franklin Street. Police officers responded at approximately 11:31 p.m. and discovered the body of Sara Prescott, 18, 710 W. Franklin St., lying on the ground near her residence.

The Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled her death a suicide. Prescott died of blunt force trauma as the result of a fall.

Police were called to the 700 block of W. Franklin Street (north of Monroe Park) at 11:30pm Sunday night after a female was found dead. VCU and Richmond Police are calling the death a suicide.


John M. Bennet of VCU issued this email early this morning:

To the VCU Community:

It is with deep regret that I inform you that VCU and Richmond Police are investigating the death of a student late Sunday night, as the result of what appears to be a suicide. The student was found between Rhoads Hall and Pace Campus Ministry. Counselors are meeting with the student’s friends, and all students are encouraged to contact University Counseling Services with any concerns. Counselors can be reached at 828-6200 on the Monroe Park Campus and 828-3964 on the MCV Campus.

Our thoughts are with the student’s family and friends at this sad time.


John M. Bennett
Senior Vice President, Finance and Administration

According to the Times-Dispatch, the name of the student has not been released as her relatives have yet to be contacted.

We’ll release more information as it becomes available.

Our thoughts go out to the student’s family and friends and the entire VCU community during this horrible time. This is just so sad.

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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is managing editor of RVAFamily. When she’s not oversharing her parenting struggles and successes, you can find her raising a preschool-aged boy and watching 90s television shows.

18 comments on UPDATE: VCU student death ruled suicide

  1. Thoughts and prayers to this student’s family and friends.

    The email from VCU was sent at 1:48am, nearly an hour after first reports popped up on Twitter. A lot of rumors spread pretty quick about what happened and many kids were screaming for a VCU Alert, VCU’s email and text system put in place for use during emergencies.

    I applaud VCU for waiting to send anything until they had enough information to avoid rumors and panic. Students demanding info right away were reacting to hearsay and need to understand that the school can’t just alert that a student has died without having more information to go off of and that sometimes that information is not automatically known.

  2. Jake on said:

    I’m sorry for the loss of life, and deeply sorry for the loss of the family and friends of the departed but this sort of thing has to stop happening. Last year a girl was found dead in her dorm. This year a student goes missing and another kills herself. The last thing I want to be is insensetive but these events can and need to be prevented. Agreed VCU has doen a good job of disclosing information, but what have they done to prevent another situation like this from occuring?

  3. Our prayers go out to the family and we encourage everyone to keep the entire campus in prayer. This campus has been continuously attacked with tragedy.

  4. In response to Jake:

    There was a death last year of a student in her dorm. However, she died of muscular dystrophy, so that had nothing to do with the university at all.

    VCU does its best to keep its students safe. our suicide rate is nothing compared to some schools. we are, however, located in the middle of a very unsafe city. there is bound to be incidences.

  5. Ali on said:

    Also in response the Jake:

    The girl in GRC died of muscular dystrophy, as LD stated, and I’m sure little else could be done on a college campus the size of VCU’s in the heart of a fairly crime ridden city to prevent one boy from going missing. We have police-call boxes on every University building, loads of VCU police and Richmond police alike patrolling the streets either by car or bike, and various other means of security.

    VCU does everything it can to help and prevent tragedies like these, and it has many outlets offering help to any student who wants it.

  6. Justin on said:

    Jake: according to CDC statistics, there were 82.2 deaths per 100,000 people age 15-24 in 2006, including 9.9 suicides. VCU has 32,000 undergraduates. I’m not sure why you’d expect VCU students to be immortal, but hell: may as well be outraged about something. Keeps your circulation going.

  7. VCU couldn’t have done anything to “prevent” this. I can’t believe anyone would even post such a stupid, asinine thing. Get a grip.

  8. Jon on said:

    I used to live on the 15th floor of Rhoads. Needless to say it is a long drop. Such a terrible way to die. Nothing can be so bad in your life that it is worth suicide. Please seek help if you are having these feelings.

  9. Tallness on said:

    The question ought not be what has VCU done to prevent this from happening, but what have and can you, Jake, do to prevent this from happening. I would submit less judging, more listening, less criticism, more loving, less hatred, more kindness, less prejudice, more understanding. People are fragile and feelings are skin deep. Reach out where you know you can and should. May feel a little weird at first, but you’ll get it!

  10. emcmillen on said:

    As being a previous member of VCU’s ResLife staff, I can assure you that we are all trained very well in how to deal with sensitive situations. These do not exclude suicide attempts. Every single floor of all resident halls, especially the freshman dorms, has at least one of these trained people living on it, and they get to know the students on a very deep and sincere level. Heck, they’re living with one another on a day-to-day basis. However, it is important to note that it isn’t always possible to know what people are thinking, feeling, and more so, hiding internally. We can’t make people talk if they don’t want to.

    Also, VCU has some of the tightest campus security around. No unauthorized personnel can get in or out of a building very easily. Each dorm has security staff, and the university is in the process of putting security into each academic building as well. Whenever something has happened within one of Virginia’s universities, VCU has responded by increasing security measures even more. However, people have to be held accountable for their own actions to a certain extent at least. The fact remains that VCU is an urban school, and you have to use common sense when attending a school like that, i.e. – don’t walk alone at night, don’t carry large sums of cash, tell somebody where you’re going at all times, etc. If people don’t use common sense at all, then to a certain sense, well, it’s their own fault when something happens to them. Trying to blame the university is a cop out and a sorry excuse to try to place the guilt any where other than where it should be placed.

  11. Lonely 4 Years on said:

    I agree with tallness. I don’t know her reasons, but during my years at VCU, I felt very lonely. In general it felt like people weren’t very friendly there, and having anxiety made it so much more worse. I can only imagine what it must be like for the foreign exchange students (I used to live near someone who’d stay in their room all day except for class).

    I don’t know… Like I said, I don’t know her reasons but as someone with their anxiety (somewhat) under control, now is a better time than any to step up and plead to everyone to reach out. No one should feel alone in a student body of 32,000.

  12. Whitta25 on said:

    My thoughts and prayers are with you all at VCU, and to the family and friends of Sara Prescott. I am deeply sorry for your loss. Another angel now watches us from heaven. Rest in Peace Sara.

  13. sr12 on said:

    This is terrible news. Having known Sara since she was a little girl, I am completely shocked and saddened by this.

    RIP Sara

  14. patricia on said:

    Heartbreak is what comes to mind, when i think of the promise loss with Sara’s death. My child was her room mate. I pray for her soul, I pray for her family. I hope that if anyone is depressed get help don’t hurt your self. As a parent i felt VCU safe. May God bless all the students, parents and staff at VCU.

  15. Kelsey on said:

    To people up here saying that VCU could have prevented this, get real. Coming from a person who was suicidal not even half a year ago I can tell you that if someone is determined to kill themselves, they will. I am heartbroken for this girl just because I know, experienced, and felt the pain of having nothing to look to but death as my answer. Only I was saved before it was too late. It’s just a shame she didn’t have the same ending.
    This is for people who believe that depressed, suicidal people have a sort of description or appearance…there ISN’T one. You have to care. You have to let those around you know that you’ll be there for them. The ones that smile the most are sometimes the ones with the most pain.
    May she rest in peace, and may her family, friends, and the VCU community find peace as well.

  16. Obviously, this tragedy COULD have been prevented. They have already banned guns on campus but VCU now needs to ban windows past the second story of all their buildings. Also, no more belts, shoelaces, cutlery (plastic or metal), or medicines of any sort.

    People like Jake scare me.

    I went to VCU and I utilized their student counseling services when I hit a rough patch. I have to say it was very accessible and the staff was awesome. In the end, the only thing that could have prevented this recent suicide was the girl herself. Hate to sound cold but it’s the truth.

  17. osama on said:
  18. WH7891 on said:

    I knew this girl since freshman year in high school I was at Basic Training for the US Army when she died didn’t hear she was dead till about a week or two later in airborne school she just so happend to die the same day as my grandfather and the day after a girl whom I thought would be my wife and I had been dating for a year she helped me learn a lot about myself no idea why I’m posting this late but its just weird that she died the same day as my grandpa in my opinion

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