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April 10, 2018

Parents sue Penn, alleging it failed to answer their suicidal daughter's pleas for help

Courts University of Pennsylvania
04112016_Olivia_Kong_Penn_LI Source/Olivia Kong / LinkedIn

Olivia Kong was a junior at Penn's Wharton School.

The parents of a Penn student who committed suicide filed suit Tuesday against the university, alleging it did nothing to respond to a suicidal student's pleas for help.

Ao "Olivia" Kong, a junior at the Wharton School, killed herself by lying on the tracks in front of an oncoming train at the 40th Street Station on SEPTA’s Market-Frankford line in April 2016.

According to the lawsuit, Kong repeatedly told university officials in the days leading up to her death that she was stressed by her coursework and feeling suicidal. Instead of providing immediate assistance, the university shuffled her through a bureaucracy of multiple departments and individuals, the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit,  Kong v. Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, was filed Tuesday in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, according to the Feldman Shepherd law firm of Philadelphia, which is representing her parents, Xianguo Kong and Zhao Lin.

The university communications office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

Olivia Kong was the 12th University of Pennsylvania student since 2009 to commit suicide. Since February 2013, 14 Penn students have taken their own lives.

This is a developing story and will be updated.