On August 14, Rensselaer officials confirmed that the student found at Samaritan Hospital who had allegedly committed suicide was Ian Axelrod ’10. Axelrod was an RPI student majoring in biology from Chevy Chase, MD. It was found that he shot himself in the head with a 12-gauge shotgun near the emergency entrance to Samaritan on August 12 at 9 am, but the autopsy to confirm his identity had been delayed a few days.
A hospital worker alerted police to the shooting, which was also detected by ShotSpotter, a city computer system that uses acoustics to locate gunfire. Police said that nothing suggests the death was a homicide. A suicide note was found next to Axelrod, but Troy police Sgt. Dave Dean said it revealed little more than that he wanted his organs donated. The note did not include any further details about Axelrod’s decision as to why he committed suicide or why he did so outside the entrance to the hospital.
President Shirley Ann Jackson wrote in an e-mail to the Rensselaer community, “The loss of a student is an enormously difficult event for a university community to experience, and I understand that this news will be upsetting for many of you.” Jackson also reminded the community that they play a role in identifying students who need help and not to hesitate to contact the Counseling Center, noting that information is kept confidential.
Axelrod is the second student killed by a gunshot in the past eight months.
In December, John Curry ’10 was also found shot in his Fifth Avenue apartment with a gun and an open cell phone at his side after his parents had requested a welfare check on him.
The death was ruled a homicide by Medical Examiner Michael Sikirica, but some investigators remain convinced that Curry had shot himself. The cause of death has since been re-examined, but Dean said that the case still remains open.
Jackson said, “I extend my deepest sympathies to Ian’s family and friends, and I urge the entire community to come together to help those who are grieving.”
Students who are feeling depressed should contact counselors through the Counseling Center at (518) 276-6479, and help is available to faculty and staff through the Employee Assistance Program at (518) 465-3813. All information is confidential.