By James Steinbauer, Editor-in-Chief
MinGi Kang, a 20-year-old university studies major from Seoul, South Korea and Beijing, China, is dead after climbing and falling from the radio tower at Williams Hall last Thursday.
A Miami University Police Department officer responded to a 911 call at approximately 3:45 p.m. Thursday, March 25, according to the incident report. MUPD Capt. Ben Spilman said he could not elaborate on specifics, but the department is investigating the case as a suicide.
The official report from the Butler County coroner is pending.
Mike Curme, associate vice president and dean of students, declined to comment on the incident, but included a list of counseling and suicide prevention resources for students in his initial announcement to the university community.
“The loss of anyone in our community affects all of us,” Curme wrote. “We hope that you will not hesitate to take advantage of any resources that you need, and take care of yourselves and each other in the coming weeks.”
Claire Wagner, director of university news and communication, said the death of any student is a loss for the Miami community.
“The loss of a student is a tragedy for us now and in ways we can’t even imagine,” Wagner said. “We will never be able to know what that student could have gone on to do.”
In a 911 call last Thursday, Stephen Gordon, curator at the McGuffey Museum, told an MUPD dispatcher that someone was climbing the more than 350-foot radio tower.
“He’s so far away, but he’s dressed in dark and he’s probably 75 feet up on the ladder,” Gordon said. “So I don’t know, he could be a repairman, but he doesn’t appear to be a repairman.”
Steve Beitzel, the chief engineer at Williams Hall, said he had just left the building at 4:12 and was walking past the 10-foot fence surrounding the radio tower when he heard something hit the ground.
“The logical engineer in me said, ‘there’s a lot of cell antennas and transmitters up there and it has been raining all day, so something must have just gotten wet and broke off.’”
Richard Campbell, chair of Miami’s Department of Media, Journalism and Film, commented on the incident, which has left many faculty members in Williams Hall shaken.
“This is just a sad and tragic thing, to think that some young person either slipped or jumped from the tower,” Campbell said.
Kip Alishio, director of student counseling services, said that suicidal thinking is not as unusual as one might assume. In fact, he said, as many as one in 10 college students will seriously consider suicide in any given year.
“The important thing for students to know is that suicidal thinking and feelings are temporary. They don’t last. When we’re in that state of mind it feels like they’ll last forever,” Alishio said. “Those feelings should be a clue to reach out to somebody else, whether it be a friend, a family member, a faculty person, a resident advisor, a professional advisor or an anonymous person on the end of a hotline. There is hope and there are resources.”
Student Counseling Services (513.529.4634)
Butler County 24 hour crisis hotline (844.427.4747)
National crisis text line (741.741)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800.273.8255)
McCullough-Hyde Hospital (513.523.2111)