Saturday, April 11, 2009

Staten Island loses shining star

Student body president overdosed on OTC painkiller, coroner concludes

Friday, April 10, 2009
Staten Island Advance

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- The death of the student body president of Port Richmond High School on Monday has been ruled a suicide by the city medical examiner, who said the young woman ingested an overdose of painkiller.

Senior Jin Ju Kim, 18, of New Springville, died of "complications from acetaminophen toxicity," a spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office told the Advance yesterday. Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in Tylenol; in large doses, it can cause liver failure and death.

Miss Kim's death has sent ripples of grief through the student body and faculty, who remembered her for her beaming smile, warm personality and seemingly bright future.

"She was really smart," said Port Richmond student Chris Reyes. "One of those students who was really on track."

Several students said Miss Kim left class on Monday complaining of stomach pains and was hospitalized.

In a letter sent home to parents, Principal Timothy Gannon said the incident had a tragic impact on the school's community.

"This is a very sad time for our Raider family," the letter said. "With the Spring Break upon us, I am concerned for the well-being of those students who are particularly impacted by this sad event. ... I encourage you to support your child during this difficult time and to encourage them when needed to make use of the counseling services offered here on Staten Island."

Though Miss Kim moved to the United States just four years ago, parent leaders said she immersed herself in the school's community. Teachers and students recognized her as the girl who was always smiling.

"Everybody at the school was devastated," said Joanne Wojcik, the PTA co-president, who worked with Miss Kim last year on the school leadership team. "She was really insightful and had a lot of good ideas for the school. She was very well-loved by all the teachers and students. It's a shame, it really is."

Grief counseling was offered at the school on Wednesday and the school has set up a Web site memorial for peers at

Student body president overdosed on OTC painkiller, coroner concludes
As of yesterday afternoon, nearly two dozen people had shared their stories.

"You were fun to be with and easy to talk to," wrote one friend, who identified himself on the site as Nathan Alba. "More importantly you had one of the greatest smiles ever and it would make me smile to know that you were my friend. I will always remember you."

Others posted photos of her and quotes from William Butler Yeats and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

"It hit a lot of the kids very hard," said Missy Forsyth, the school's PTA co-president. "We're still not sure of a lot of what happened."

A single Tylenol Extra Strength tablet contains 500 mg of acetaminophen. Typically, 10 grams, or 20 to 30 tablets, can cause liver toxicity, while 20 grams -- 40 tablets -- or more, can prove fatal, though those numbers vary depending on a person's weight.

Her family members declined comment yesterday, saying that they'd prefer to remember Miss Kim in privacy.

Miss Kim's funeral was yesterday morning. The arrangements were handled by the Central Funeral Home in Flushing, Queens.

"She was always very happy and told others to smile," Ms. Forsyth said. "She was just a typical teenager."

Staten Island loses shining star -

No comments: