News | Student Life

Columbia College student Tina Bu, dies

Updated 10:58 p.m.

A Columbia College student died this weekend.

Dean of Student Affairs Kevin Shollenberger confirmed the death of Tian Bu, CC ’13, Sunday evening.

Bu, who went by Tina, was from Greenville, S.C., and was studying psychology. She was actively involved in a Bible study group on campus and had a passion for writing, art, and music, according to an email Shollenberger sent to students.

“It is always very tragic when we lose a member of our community,” Shollenberger told Spectator.

Richard Eichler, executive director of Health Services, urged members of the community to reach out to Counseling and Psychological Services.

“People react to a tragedy in a host of different ways. People who are closer to someone who is deceased are more likely to have a very strong reaction,” compared to those who are less acquainted, Eichler said.

“There is no right way or wrong way to grieve,” he said. “Some people need to throw themselves back into life very quickly. … Other people need to take pause and take a little time to process what’s happened.”

“People should feel that they get support,” he added.

Staff members from CPS were meeting with Bu’s friends and residents of River Hall, where Bu lived.

The death is being investigated as a possible suicide, Shollenberger said.

According to Shollenberger, Bu was discovered dead after a concerned friend was unable to reach her and contacted Bu’s resident adviser, who set into motion the University’s emergency response system.

“My advice to any member of the community, when you don’t have a person to speak to within your ordinary support network, come and speak with us,” Eichler said. “Or it could be the clergy, it could be an adviser, it could be a coach, whoever you’re comfortable with. It’s better to seek help than not.”

Students can contact Counseling and Psychological Services at 212-854-2878 or 212-854-9797. The office will hold evening hours throughout the week.

Students can also contact Columbia–Barnard Nightline, an anonymous peer counseling hotline, from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. nightly at 212-854-7777; the Center for Student Advising at 212-854-6378; the Office of the University Chaplain at 212-854-1493; and Barnard's Rosemary Furman Counseling Center at 212-854-2092.

finn.vigeland@columbiaspectator.com

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Anonymous posted on

North Carolina

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ColumbiaSpectator posted on

Columbia administrators informed us that Dean Shollenberger's email was mistaken. If you would like to get in touch with us to provide additional information, please contact info@columbiaspectator.com.

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Anonymous posted on

what does mistaken mean?

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ColumbiaSpectator posted on

Dean Shollenberger's email said that Tina came from the town of Greenville, North Carolina. After the email was sent, Columbia administrators informed us that she came from Greenville, South Carolina.

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Anonymous posted on

Please also feel free to call the RA On Call in your respective buildings.

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Anonymous posted on

Never "passed away"—in journalism, we must always say "died." Also, "was" the death being investigated and is now over, or is it still being investigated? The possible cause of death should be much closer to the lede.

That being said, this fucking sucks. My condolences to Tian's family and friends. :(

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Anonymous posted on

Really?  This doesn't seem like the time for journalistic nitpicking...

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Anonymous posted on

I think it's important to not allow the sentiment of the content being covered get in the way of our journalistic integrity. Outside of our field, this may seem cold or callous—but it is all we've got in moments like these, to understand our place in the context of our stories. I don't expect non-journalists to understand that. In fact, I don't want them to. Stay sweet, stay caring; objectivity is our job.

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Anonymous posted on

Co-sign on this. Don't let excessive sensitivity get in the way of how you'd normally cover a death.

Anon, it's never not the time for journalistic nitpicking, especially in the (usually boring) Spec comments. If you don't wanna read 'em, don't.

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Anonymous posted on

Sometimes articles say "expired" when referring to a death .. is that good journalism?

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Anonymous posted on

Washington Post - Philip Kennicott - 3 days ago
But al-Jazeera was also showing Gaddafi alive, in video apparently taken just before he was killed or had expired from his wounds. The flood of information ...

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Anonymous posted on

how come Barnard students didn't get the dean's email? We're all part of the same community.

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Anonymous posted on

Because he's not your Dean...

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Anonymous posted on

thats actually all you think about? yourselves?

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Anonymous posted on

It should have come from our own dean, perhaps, but I agree, they should have notified us. 

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Anonymous posted on

don't bitch at your own dean's inaction/ bitch at prez-bo... it's really his University

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Anonymous posted on

The world did not abandon you. We all care about you.

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Anonymous posted on

I second that. Doesn't Columbia think Barnard students might have known her?

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Anonymous posted on

Not sure she was one of my good friends

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Anonymous posted on

sorry meant to write *not sure*

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ColumbiaSpectator posted on

Hi all,

We know that this is a time when emotions are likely to run high, but please be respectful in your comments. The Barnard-Columbia relationship might be better discussed another day.

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Anonymous posted on

I know this may not be the time or place to say this, but I don't seem to understand why I did not catch this.  I spoke with her Wednesday night and she seemed okay to me.  We joked around, had a few laughs, and even talked about having a spanish class "reunion".  I know they are saying that this may be a possible suicide, but it is just so weird.

And that comment about how come BC did not get the notification, i completely agree.  I was a good friend of hers and i attend BC.  I found out through a friends FB status and was in complete shock.  

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Anonymous posted on

I'm so sorry to hear that.  It's scary that we know so little about what's going on inside of other people's heads, even when they're close to us.  It's important to take care of one another as much as we can, but it's also important to recognize that we aren't in control of or responsible for everything that happens to those around us.  Please don't blame yourself.  A few of my close friends struggle with mental illness, and-- despite knowing the situation and actively watching for signs!-- I have often been unable to "catch" the fact that they're in pain before it reaches crisis.  It makes you feel like a self-absorbed, clueless piece of shit, but we're not all-powerful.  I wish we were.  This must be an incredibly painful shock, and I'd really encourage you to sit down and talk to someone from counseling (I know Barnard has some great resources) or a clergyperson/dean/whomever as you sort through it.  
It might also help to talk with some of your other friends (especially those who knew her too) about what happened, in greater depth than the "It's just so _sad_" and "I'm just so _shocked_" default mode.  I bet many of them are feeling the same way.  By discussing it with them, you also open the door for them to talk to you about any similar problems with which they're dealing.  It's a small step toward preventing something like this from happening to anyone else you care about. Finally, it's worth remembering that this tragedy doesn't negate your friendship or the fun you had together in the past.  It feels trite to quote a tv show here, but I thought Doctor Who summed it up pretty well in an episode where a character's friend commits suicide: "Every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don't always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don't necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant."  I'm glad she was your friend, and I'm so sorry she died.  It sounds like you have some lovely memories of her.  Be well.

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CU_Alum posted on

Don't be hard on yourself.  There were very likely no signs for you
to catch.

Surprisingly, most suicides are spontaneous decisions.  The person may have been depressed for a long time, but studies show that relatively few people who attempt suicide decided to make the attempt more than a few minutes in advance.  It is very unlikely that Ms. Bu was showing signs four days earlier.  You should not blame yourself for not seeing signs that likely weren't there to be seen. 

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Anonymous posted on

if anyone is feeling like they need someone to talk to but can't take the formal step of approaching CPS or do not know who else to contact, email someonewhocaresatCU@gmail.com 

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NotKatsu posted on

I recommend a paper by the late sociologist Harvey Sacks (Columbia BA 1955, btw) "The Search for Help: No one to turn to", of which a version appears in Schneidman's "Essays in Self Destruction".

For those of you who won't read the paper:  Sacks, who worked at a suicide counseling hotline, identifies and describes the failed coping strategy which Richard Eichler, and indeed all health services administrators, wishes to circumvent.  The person in need of help identifies all the people who could be of help and then, one by one, goes down the list and eliminates each person, often for an extremely trivial reason.  e.g. "Oh, I couldn't talk to Uncle Bob again -- I just asked him for help last Sunday."

Break the pattern and survive.

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Anonymous posted on

My heart goes out to her family.

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Anonymous posted on

"She was actively involved in a Bible study group on campus" and "a possible suicide" do not go together. I hope there is another reason.

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CU_Alum posted on

Really?  You think people who read the Bible are so much less likely than everyone else to commit suicide?

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CU_Alum posted on

Seriously?  Did you read my comment before you deleted it?  It didn't violate any part of Spec's comment policy.  It didn't even come close to doing so.  How disappointing.

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Anonymous posted on

This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. You think it is that black and white?

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Anonymous posted on

Wow. I'm honestly in shock. This is just so awful and unbelievable. I knew her through the Quest Scholars Network (I met her in Palo Alto this summer). She was one of the sweetest, most genuine people I've ever met. God bless you, Tina, and thank you for your help, your advice, and your kindness. I will never forget you, and I will always cherish our friendship. 

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Anonymous posted on

To Bobjelly - they can go together. What you say is often reflected in more conservative ideals regarding the fate of people who take their own lives - someone who reads the Bible is not immune to the intense inner battles and emotions. We don't know all of her battles. It does not make her a lesser person, a lesser believer in the Bible. She fought, and she succumbed to her fight - but at least she did what she could. From what I have read on these comments, people who knew her were deeply rewarded to know her. She seems to have given so much to others - perhaps she never asked for herself. Please, do not assume what people are capable of, and respect what she chose, as it cannot be changed. Rather than challenge the reason, honor her memory and life. I feel for her family and friends. I also feel for others in the Columbia community who  may be in the same place as she was, mentally and emotionally - do not fear seeking help. It's difficult, but talk to someone. Thank you Tina for sharing your kind soul with the world.  

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Anonymous posted on

Very well written.  

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Anonymous posted on

bc did get an email... i got one this morning

my condolences to tian and her family. god bless her!

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