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Multiple Student Deaths Cause Alarm At ISU

Two students were found dead in unrelated incidents at Illinois State University. (CBS)

Two students were found dead in unrelated incidents at Illinois State University. (CBS)

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NORMAL, Ill. (CBS) — After an unusually high number of student deaths this past school year, administrators at Illinois State University in downstate Normal are taking another look at their policies.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, ISU spokesman Jay Groves says it was a tough year, with eight students who died. Two high-profile cases were among them.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports

“There were two deaths in one day –one was a natural causes and one was a suicide – and that’s what captured media attention, just the unusualness of the situation,” Groves said.

On the night of March 22, the body of sophomore Allison C. Zak, 19, of Schaumburg, was found around 9:30 p.m. in her eighth-floor room of the Manchester Hall dormitory, according to the McLean County Coroner’s office.

Zak’s cause death may be related to an undiagnosed seizure disorder related to Crouzon Syndrome, which manifests itself with multiple brain and skull abnormalities, the coroner’s office said. Further studies were pending.

Around 11:50 p.m. that same night, the body of freshman John C. Stephens, 19, of Wilmette, was found on the 16th floor of the Hewett Hall dormitory, according to the coroner’s office. Stephens’ autopsy indicates the cause of death was a “non-natural process.”

Of the eight deaths this year, three students took their own lives, and a fourth was a suspected suicide.

“We already have an excellent suicide prevention program, and what we do is each year, just as a matter of course, we always review our programs; see what we might do differently,” Groves said.

Of 32 student deaths over the past seven years at ISU, 10 died in traffic crashes and nine committed suicide.