Penn Student Is Hit By Train In Suicide

| by Jordan Smith
Sophie PhillipsSophie Phillips

A 21-year-old University of Pennsylvania student was struck by a train April 11 in a reported suicide.

Ao "Olivia" Kong, a junior finance student, died in what is the 10th suicide by a Penn student in three years, according to

"We are deeply saddened to report that a Penn undergraduate student was struck and killed this morning by a SEPTA train at the 40th Street Station," a statement from President Amy Gutmann and Provost Vincent Price read, according to CBS Philadelphia. "She was a bright, well-liked and successful member of our junior class. We have been in contact with her family  and have conveyed our deepest sympathies to them at this very sad and tragic time."

Students held a moment of silence for Kong April 13, and some called on the university to take action.

Students carried posters reading “You’re not alone” and “This is a safe space,” according to

A petition set up by students details six steps which the university could take to address mental illness. Suggestions include training for residential staff, more resources for counseling services and an easier process for withdrawing from classes.

According to studies, suicides at Penn, which has a student body of 21,000, take place about twice every three years.

Sophie Phillips, president of the Phi Gamma Nu business fraternity, of which Kong was a member, spoke about why anonymous letters from other students about depression and anxiety were being read out at the event.

“We want to break the silence and we want to lift the stigma of mental health,” Phillips told

"Out of this gathering we want to continue sharing these stories," Phillips added. "Not just because we talk about hard things like depression and anxiety and suicide and mental health, but because they’re also stories about hope, bravery, resilience and courage."

By Wednesday evening, the petition, started Tuesday, had over 3,500 signatures. Some criticized the university for initially announcing Kong’s death as an accident and failing to issue a correction to confirm it was a suicide.

“I want a public apology from Gutmann and the administration,” said Bryan Hoang, one of the signatories. “They are not being competent in doing the job they’re supposed to do and solving this problem.”

University administrators have met with student representatives to discuss the petition.

Sources: KYW, / Photo credit:

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