Freshman’s death ruled a suicide

Media Credit: Photo courtesy of Chris Keefer

Sean Keefer, who died Tuesday, was known by professors as their star student. He was learning Ph.D-level material as a freshman and was in the University's most prestigious academic scholarship program.

Media Credit: Photo courtesy of Chris Keefer.
Keefer, a freshman in the honors program, was studying computer science and mathematics.

The death of 19-year-old Sean Keefer has been ruled a suicide, the D.C. Medical Examiner office said Friday.

University Police Department officers found Keefer unconscious in his West Hall bedroom on the Mount Vernon Campus on Jan. 21. The freshman, originally from West Linn, Ore., was a star in his advanced computer science and mathematics classes and a member of the University Honors Program.

Keefer’s parents and two sisters had last heard from Sean about two nights before he died. The family had missed his call while the four of them played a board game that Sunday evening, and later heard his voicemail that said he was lonely. But Sean Keefer didn’t return his family’s calls.

Speaking to more than 200 of his son’s former classmates and professors, Chris Keefer urged members of the GW community not to feel guilt and not to lose hope in themselves like his son did.

“What I would implore all of you to do, all of you young people, is if you ever feel that you want to go to a dark place, don’t go alone. Okay? I want you to go to your friends, go to your family. It does not matter if you’re mad at your mom or dad or brother or sister. Call them.”

Keefer was drawn to GW by the Clark Engineering scholarship, which was awarded to four freshman. A self-taught coder, Keefer was also the star intern of a data-driven transparency company in D.C. called the Open Gov Foundation.

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