Matthew Nehring, freshman of East Campus, dies

Matthew L. Nehring ’18, a resident of East Campus and a native of Colorado, died Saturday night.

“I have some terrible news to share about one of our students, Matthew Nehring, a freshman on 1W,” housemaster Robert C. Miller ’95 wrote in an email to East Campus residents on Sunday. “Last night, in the Stata Center, Matthew apparently took his own life.”

A dorm meeting was held Sunday afternoon in East Campus with representatives from MIT Mental Health and MIT Student Support Services, as well as chaplains, the East Campus graduate resident tutors, and Chancellor Cynthia A. Barnhart PhD ’88.

“In this moment of tragedy, we extend heartfelt sympathies to Matthew’s family and friends,” President L. Rafael Reif wrote in an email to campus. “I would also like us to take time to focus on one another as a community. There is no greater source of support than the sympathy and kindness of the people we know best.”

Reif and Miller encouraged students to reach out if they needed help or guidance.

Several students had already responded to the news by sending emails to the East Campus community, offering condolences and welcoming their peers into their rooms to pray and talk about depression.

Reif’s email announced a community gathering to be held on Tuesday, March 3, at 6 p.m. in the Memorial Lobby of Building 10 to remember Nehring, who was a staff member of The Tech’s business department.

Members of the MIT community who feel affected by the deaths can access MIT student support resources and Mental Health Services at, or via phone at 617-253-2916 during the day and 617-253-4481 during nights and weekends.

This article was last updated at 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 1.

Anonymous over 7 years ago

The Tech's handling of this story has shown a complete lack of respect for the people involved. The treatment of this story as a sensationalistic, gossip-mongering piece of news shows disrespect to the deceased and his family and friends. Quoting an email meant for residents only of a dorm, as well as releasing information prior to an all campus email is simply repulsive behavior. The flow of information about such events is structured to allow the family and those directly involved time to alert others and process what has happened. That the Tech would blatantly disregard this is simply abhorrent and irresponsible. I sincerely hope that no family member or friend found out through this article rather than being contacted personally as they deserve. You should be ashamed of yourselves for placing more importance on being the first to relay the news than having respect for the situation and those affected.

RIP Matthew. You deserved better than this.

Anonymous over 7 years ago

I completely agree with you 1.

And at the risk of further disrespecting Matthew, but hopefully in an effort to prevent such from happening again we must ask: When is enough going to be enough with The Tech? This behavior is very typical. Think back to their coverage of beloved Prof. Teller's death ( this being months ago and not being comment 5, I immediately was able to recall the Teller article upon reading this one. Sickening.

One does not need to get into the many other issues with the Tech to justify the demand that the MIT Community absolutely deserves better.

Anonymous over 7 years ago

While the Tech's ethics in releasing this article is terrible, this article isn't really sensationalist.

I also sincerely appreciate Reif's candor. I hope this is a sign that the administration will start trying to tackle this head on rather than sweep it under the rug. I hope someday the administration invests in better mental health services instead of throwing suicidal students in McLean and washing their hands of them. I have too many friends who needed to decide between their health and the Institvte (and friends who had that decision made for them). The time for this to stop is long, long overdue.

Anonymous over 7 years ago

3 - When I say sensationalist, I refer to the fact that the Tech had a "breaking news" bulletin up for hours before this article was published naming Matthew and the location of his death with no other details. It was clear the Tech prioritized being able to break the news rather than showing any sort of sensitivity to the situation.

I agree that the Institute needs to step up when it comes to mental health. Tragedies like these should not be momentary scrambles to respond, only to drop the issue a few weeks later. However, in the interest of fairness, when it comes to labelling student deaths, the family is allowed to decide if they feel comfortable with it publicly being labelled as a suicide (in this case, they apparently did). While, the issue does need to be spoken about, I feel it is also important to respect the wishes of those that are left behind.

Regardless, a life has been lost too soon and I sincerely hope that the coming weeks elicit change, rather than empty promises.

Anonymous over 7 years ago

Death certificates are a matter of public record in Massachusetts.

Anonymous over 7 years ago

I wanted to second comment #3: MIT Mental Health is severely understaffed to serve the student population. They currently have 29 providers listed on their website, while there are over 11,000 students at MIT. As someone who uses Mental Health's services, I know first hand how Mental Health is not equipped to serve student needs. While the doctors there have been of tremendous help to me, I've also not been able to see therapists with the frequency that I've been prescribed. I've had other friends simply abandoned when their therapists have left, as no one was accepting new patients.

Suicide prevention needs to begin far before someone reaches a state of suicidality. The current staffing of MIT Mental Health Services simply does not allow for comprehensive early intervention in students' declining mental health. I hope the administration will consider this in reflecting upon these tragic deaths.

Anonymous over 7 years ago

Re: 1 and others,

The Tech Publishing this and the previous news headline is exactly how I want the Tech to behave. Distributing this news in a timely fashion is important the the MIT community.

Anonymous over 7 years ago

Distressing as these events have been, it is important to gather as much information about the predisposing and precipitating factors that contribute to suicides not only at MIT but also at other schools similar to MIT. Because of patient confidentiality requirements there has to be a special form of data gathering to be able to accurately assess the mental heath needs of the community.

Also, if the mental health resources at MIT are not adequate because of high demand, there are other resources in the Boston/Cambridge area that the community should be encouraged to use.

I am very sorry for the untimely death of all these talented people.

Anonymous over 7 years ago

8 - You can use the health services at MIT on the basic insurance provided to all students. Many undergrads are still on parent insurance, meaning dealing with their issues will cause conflict with their parents, not to mention that not everyone at MIT can afford the copays at other places. Please do not assume that everyone has reasonable parents or money.

MIT's suicide rate for undergrads is sky high. They often try to mask this by only presenting overall suicide rates.

Anonymous over 7 years ago

Agree with 7 above. Knowledge is power. The MIT community deserves to know. The pain, the numbness, the loss, are devastating. But above all, the question Why?

Anonymous over 7 years ago

Agree strongly with 9. I think that "Also, if the mental health resources at MIT are not adequate because of high demand, there are other resources in the Boston/Cambridge area that the community should be encouraged to use" misses both monetary issues, issues with parents, _and_ issues with time management. Those that refuse to even see an MIT mental health counselor due to time issues can and should be convinced that it is worth their time, but taking up to 3 hours out of my day per week to have a 1-hour meeting with some counselor way out in Harvard square or farther would absolutely _not have been worth it_ while I was an undergrad, and nothing would have convinced me otherwise.

Anonymous over 7 years ago

9, As a teacher, I have seen my share of unreasonable parents. I have come across high school kids who are at high risk of breakdowns. I try to help them navigate some of their issues as long as these are directly related to the course being taught. Sometimes, I try to convey to parents the difficulties of the course and suggest ways to deal with them, But my ability to give the students emotional support is quite limited. I am not a mental health expert.

There are also some parents who genuinely are not aware of the difficulties their children are having and would be able to help if only they are brought into the picture (with the students' permission of course). I, for one, would try my best to assist in promoting the well-being of my child.

I am not familiar with the way insurance coverage of dependent adult children is being utilized under ACA rules but if at all possible, that can be a resource on the financial end. I understand too that students feel the need to separate from parental supervision in order to become their own person. However, I feel much anguish whenever I learn about another life shortened when one could not cope anymore. It is in that spirit that I suggested using resources outside of MIT.

Anonymous over 7 years ago

"I understand too that students feel the need to separate from parental supervision in order to become their own person."

12, your attitude is awfully condescending. Do you seriously think that these kids had such a strong sense of independence that they would rather die than tell mommy and daddy about their rainy days? You don't have to be a mental health expert to learn about depression. Go run a google search, maybe you'll come to understand these people as people rather than caricatures.

Freedom over 7 years ago

13-- Teaching students gives you a far better understanding of them than running a Google search. (I'd argue the latter would misinform rather than inform.)

Ivy Undergrad over 7 years ago

13: 12 may be condescending, but that doesn't mean they're wrong. I'm close to my parents and know they'd support me through anything, but that doesn't mean I don't try to hide mental health problems from them. Suicide isn't a rational decision, so yes, there are those who choose to take their own life rather than reach out for help.

Anonymous over 7 years ago

Students who fail to reach out for help do so because they feel lost, not because they feel independent.

Anonymous over 7 years ago

#12, I am sorry that you find my post "condescending." Far from it, I speak from personal experience- I was once a youngster. And I am aware of students who rarely got in touch at all with their parents once they were off to college. I think this may be the norm. There are things we, young and old, do not want to bother our loved ones for various reasons. Certainly, my children did not tell me many things when they attended Wellesley and MIT. Only later did they share certain feelings and struggles. Many of my friends have had similar transitional experiences with their offsprings.

What I am trying hard to say is that there are some of us adults who walked in your shoes and we do care. I have always let my children know that I am willing to at least listen and explore ways to assist them through their needs. If that was not possible or not beneficial, I encouraged them to seek counsel from someone else. And to keep looking for that someone who can help them with their feelings of despair.

Peace. I am crying with you.

Anonymous over 7 years ago

#17, you are wrong to assume that #12 (or, at least, people who agree with #12) are students, and that everyone has experiences just like your own.

It's true that depression can close people off to their parents, but severe depression or depression to the point of a suicide attempt is a rather different beast. You may want to talk to a health care professional about the differences if you do not understand them. Teaching high school does not make you an expert on adult psychology, and your advice so far has yet to be helpful.

Elisabeth Avery over 7 years ago

It's time to double up on buddy systems: Every residence, every department, every student who shares an advisor should be assigned a mental health buddy. Sound ridiculous? Even people who aren't naturally drawn to each other to be friends, can be alert to someone in need. This is one way to help weave an intricate and broader reaching safety net.

Anonymous over 7 years ago

1, 2: you must have missed Boston Globe's headline, "MIT student suicide is third of school year"

Anonymous over 7 years ago

20: you are correct; however, sensationalizing and attention grabbing is precisely The Globe's goal. I would hope, as members of the MIT Community unlike the Globe, The Tech would be a bit more respectful.

Far too often the Tech exploits other students to further their mission--whether it be suicide, elections, or articles about student groups. I respect their desire to present news and that is precisely why they exist; however, in most cases the students are not trying to do anything wrong and in all cases they are just fellow students so criminalizing them is definitely wrong.

Anonymous over 7 years ago

#18: As a student who has struggled to open up to my parents about these same mental health issues, I find that #17 has an extremely accurate grasp of the situation.

Freedom over 7 years ago

22: Thanks. I was about to unload on 18 for being a leftist.

You see, leftists (ninety five percent of urbanites) care primarily about power, not about women, minorities, the sick or the elderly. Instead of seeing the world as it is and being good, just and genuine, leftists find the most convenient worldview. Here, they know that by advocating socialist treatments for depression, they seem nicer. Their friends also want to seem nice, so they join the popular fight for 'social justice.' The vicious cycle intensifies and soon you have reckless disregard for truth and a religious fundamentalism around beliefs like "fight global warming!" "give money to the poor!" "give more money to MIT mental health!" "fight sexual assault and harassment!" "fight sexism!" "fight racism!" Social justice warriors even riot, protest and vandalize to fight for these causes, and the ensuing policies have caused great damage to the West. Sadly, challenging these beliefs will get you labeled a heretic and criminal, and you can lose your job in a heartbeat if you speak publicly while keeping it real.

Such are the disadvantages of a dying democracy which places power in the hands of manipulative narcissistic politicians, limp wristed money-grubbing merchants and the illiterate masses. The solutions? Go to church, play the dirty game when you need to, and don't be a lazy crybaby.

Now, here's how leftists deal with depression (and poverty and sexual assault):

(a) lie about it,

(b) pretend self-styled "experts" have the answer,

(c) pretend bureaucrats will help,

(d) give handouts to victims,

(e) call depression a problem that must be eliminated,

(f) treat "victims" as helpless fragile flowers,

(g) pretend "victims" are better than normal people and deserve excess respect,

(h) censor non-progressive views.


(a) Depression is part of the natural human condition. It should not be eliminated entirely.

(b) Privileging people with depression encourages victimization. Instead, people with depression should be taught dignity and self-respect.

(c) Personal responsibility is the primary solution: in the end, a depressed person is responsible for managing himself.

(d) Religion and community matters.

(d) Experts are worthless. If it's impossible to measure their success reliably, they're likely corrupt. There's a cop who saved dozens of people from jumping of a bridge. I trust that guy. A therapist? A psychologist? A researcher? Don't trust them.

Freedom over 7 years ago

3- You say you "have too many friends who needed to decide between their health and the Institvte." That's good. If you are so mentally ill you can't hack it here, make room for others. Life isn't supposed to be easy and there's a spot for you elsewhere. Admissions officers say that "admissions committees never make mistakes" but that is a lie. I'm not a genius, but getting a 5.0 at MIT was easy as hell for me and there are plenty of people like me (not that having a good GPA should matter much). You say "the time for this to stop is long, long overdue." Actually, what's long overdue is rolling back immense affirmative action for women and minorities, firing ninety percent of the administrators, undoing grade inflation and hopefully finding a way to fire half the professors. Finally, spelling Institute as Institvte is [censored word].

6- You say you have "not been able to see therapists with the frequency that [you've] been prescribed." That prescription smells like bullshit-- most doctors over-prescribe, and most cases of mental illness should not be treated at all. Read the literature (you can find fellow travelers who have suffered). Join a church. Get your work done. Be responsible. Let the world teach you, not a therapist-- the depression may just be your brain learning. If you want to waste money on therapists let it be your parent's dime, not mine.

9- You say "please do not assume that everyone has reasonable parents or money." He did not. Your politeness does not mask the fact you lied about your opponent. You also say MIT's "suicide rate for undergrads is sky high." Big fat, evil lie.

10- No, the administration should not deal with all your private monetary, parental and time management issues. You're supposed to be an adult. Take the T or rent a Zip car. Your entitled attitude comes from not knowing the real world (call it the diabetes of politics) and sets you up for failure. By the way, you should certainly not be allowed to vote.

Man, I have to stop there are just so many lefty robots, I tire of fighting them I've had to fight a dozen at a time and its no fun. Plus, it's often hopeless; they seem incapable of critical thought, particularly online. Bring back monarchy, racism, sexism, Christian fundamentalism, aristocracy.

Anonymous over 7 years ago

"You also say MIT's "suicide rate for undergrads is sky high." Big fat, evil lie. "

It's not a lie. The rate goes up and down and you may have gone there during a low frequency period, but in general is a lot higher than most peer schools. When I was there, it was 2 undergrads/year. If you compare it to 18-22 year olds overall, then MIT's undergrad suicide rate is not high, but when you compare it to college students, it is the highest or second highest to Caltech in the country. This is because suicide correlates with socioeconomic status, so it can be a confounding factor.

"I'm not a genius, but getting a 5.0 at MIT was easy as hell for me and there are plenty of people like me (not that having a good GPA should matter much)."

I don't think depression at MIT is caused by lack of ability. As an alum, I've seen people perform extremely well in MIT-level classes before they enroll (and yes, there are some out there), and then start to have trouble when they enroll due solely to depression. (For instance, taking real analysis at a good college.) No matter how smart you are, you need to emotionally stable to keep on top of the work at MIT. It sounds like you are thinking depression is just an excuse for lack of ability. And also, there's no way to know how well the people were doing in school who committed suicide. Some of them I am familiar with were doing quite well. A Nobel laureate's son committed suicide at MIT about a month into his freshman year. It sounded like from his background (not just his parent) that he was a genius, and had already made contributions to a research group at MIT before he enrolled. No one's going to tell me that that guy had trouble with freshman classes on pass/NR.

It's really odd that you've turned this into a political issue. By the way, I think it's rare for the people committing suicide at MIT to have been an under-represented minority anyway, so I don't see what affirmative action has to do with this issue.

Anonymous over 7 years ago

I posted a clarification earlier to my post (#25), but it seems it didn't get posted. I just wanted to clarify that I meant that socioeconomic factors affecting depression affect the overall suicide rate for 18-22 yr old Americans, not that socioeconomics impact suicide at MIT.

Anonymous over 7 years ago

I'm all for MIT not dealing with my parental issues when MIT also stops wanting to know about my parents' economic status to decide my financial aid.

Freedom over 7 years ago


" It sounds like you are thinking depression is just an excuse for lack of ability. "

I'm saying plenty of people can succeed at MIT. You don't need amazing emotional stability or ability. I don't want to go overboard on psycho-analysis (it's usually babble anyway). The point is there's no institutional need to pamper students.

Reality over 7 years ago

Freedom - You are not alone in your opinions.

Unfortunately there's very little outlet for reality.

The reality is that people suffer. We name certain psycological conditions in order to feel better about them. We name them so that we can treat them like a cold or flu. All we need to do is take the prescribed cure and we'll magically be better.

In many cases, this does actually happen. Unfortunately, we tend to conflate mental illnesses with colds and flus. I say unfortunate, because it changes how people view mental illnesses. They presume that one can't get better without help. It takes away peoples' fundamental control over their own life.

Suicide is a part of life. Death is a part of life. Do I empathize with all the people that knew Matthew? Yes. But we're not going to prevent suicide by simply addressing depression (it may be part of the equation, but it can't be the only or major variable).

Instead we should be focused on helping others in the here and now. Unfortunately, many people are extremely selfish. We tend to focus on whether we got accepted or rejected. Whether we did poorly or not in a class, on a test, etc. Whether our friends like us or not.

The problem I'm trying to outline is similar to what Freedom said in 23.

I'm arguing that a) The Tech was right in publishing this article. We ought to see reality for what it is. b) Targeting suicide alone is useless. I think many current or suggested policies are aiming at just targetting suicide. I suggest people learn to not simply think about themselves so much. Unfortunately, this will never be reality.