A former Truman State student, Brandon Grossheim, is being accused of giving five fellow students “step-by-step directions” on how to commit suicide. All five students committed suicide during the 2016-17 school year. The lawsuit that was filed last week by the parents of Alexander David Mullins and Joshua Michael Thomas, two of the deceased students, alleges the university, fraternity and, ultimately, Grossheim were all responsible for the suicide deaths.
All five victims appeared to share the common link of Grossheim. Mullins and Thomas were his fraternity brothers, two other young men, who have not been named, were close friends. A fifth female student is believed to be connected to him, as well.
According to Nicole Gorovsky, the attorney for the Mullins and Thomas families, a police investigation revealed Grossheim was the last person to speak with or see each of the five victims previous to their deaths and had keys to their rooms or apartments.
The lawsuit alleges that Grossheim told the police he “counseled the students, giving step-by-step directions on how to deal with depression, including advice on how to commit suicide.”
Depression and even suicide are not unusual on college campuses. However, Truman State has a smaller student body of around 6,200 and the Xi Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity, where Grosshiem, Mullins and Thomas were members has only 28 active members. That makes the suicides of five students within one school year all the more alarming.
In 2017 Police Chief Jim Hughes was already concerned, telling the Post-Dispatch he believed the deaths were linked: “In over 39 years in this business, all of which have been in college towns by choice, this series of events is very unusual and concerning at any number of levels.”
The lawsuit alleges the university and fraternity had knowledge of Mullins and Thomas suffering from depression. “Both the university and the fraternity were aware that the plaintiff victims were vulnerable and suffered from depression, yet they still allowed this suspicious fraternity brother to be alone and have unfettered access to the victims,” according to Gorovsky’s press release, “This tragedy was preventable.”
No criminal charges have been filed against Grossheim. The university and fraternity have both acknowledged the lawsuit and have stated separately that they will defend their institutions from any wrongdoing.