Although it was a long time ago, it’s still chilling to read a chronicle of your friend’s suicide written with such matter-of-factness as if it were the minutes to an HOA treasury meeting or something equally banal. The inclusion of such personal details, such as the chocolate chip cookies, make it even stranger. And I don’t even know what to make of the fact that they repeatedly call her “Julie” instead of “Julia.” An exerpt:
Feb. 2001 “Please help me prevent another MIT student suicide,” Dr. Josephson writes to Randolph after Carpenter learned orally that the Random Hall Judicial Committee planned on allowing Karpe to remain in Random and talked with Dr. Josephson. “Throughout Julie’s telling of the tale, it was clear that she felt the committee had spoken, and that she had no other recourse but to move out of Random to escape, or to escape through death.” April 2001 An MIT administrative review panel is held, overseen by Assistant Dean Carol Orme-Johnson. Karpe does not dispute the allegations against him. The contents of that panel’s decision are a subject of dispute, but several people who have read it said that it indicated that Karpe, who had been provisionally removed from Random Hall, would be allowed to return. April 20, 2001 The administrative panel releases a decision including a provision for Karpe to move back into Random Hall. April 25, 2001 Carpenter picks up a copy of the panel’s decision left in an unattended room and signs for it, according to the lawsuit. “No one from MIT spoke with Julie concerning the contents of the decision or monitored her reaction to it,” the lawsuit later says. Carpenter also uses her laptop to purchase sodium cyanide by mail-order over the Internet. April 27, 2001 By Friday, Carpenter has received the cyanide. That weekend she goes to a barbeque at the Connecticut home of her friend Kristin Josephson and chats about returning to visit the Josephsons in June. Carpenter “seemed happy and did not give us any sign that she had planned on taking her life,” Josephson’s mother, Dr. Lynn Josephson, later told The Chronicle of Higher Education. April 29, 2001 After returning to MIT, Carpenter goes to a birthday party and eats chocolate-chip cookies on the Random Hall roof deck before returning to her room, where she ingests the cyanide. April 30, 2001 Carpenter is found dead in her room early in the morning by her roommate. There is no suicide note, though her death is later ruled a suicide by the Office of the Suffolk County Medical Examiner.
It still seems like it didn’t happen some days. What did Eliot say? Death or life or life or death / Death is life and life is death / I gotta use words when I talk to you / But if you understand or if you don’t / That’s nothing to me and nothing to you / We all gotta do what we gotta do