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The Dartmouth
April 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Deloria's death ruled a suicide

Police investigators have determined that Philip Deloria '96, who died Saturday night at the age of 21 in his Grantham apartment, committed suicide.

Kathrine Descheneaux, chief forensic investigator for the Merrimack County medical examiner's office, said Deloria's death was caused by "asphyxiation by hanging and the manner was suicide."

New Hampshire State Police Trooper Pam Castoldi said Sunday her department does not suspect foul play in Deloria's death. "It's not a suspicious death," she said.

Deloria's brother Vine Deloria said he did not know the exact reason why his brother killed himself, but said he spoke to his brother the morning of his death.

"[Philip] was just upset, didn't know what to do," Vine Deloria said. "He was real down, felt like he had no where to go, didn't know what to do."

"One of the last things he said was that he wanted things to get better, but if things did get better, they might be too weird for him to deal with," Vine Deloria said.

"He was mad at my dad for a lot of things, he was mad at me for a lot of things," Vine Deloria said. "He wanted life to be better, things to be good. He wanted a normal life."

Vine Deloria said his father had been visiting Philip Deloria right before his death. On Saturday, Philip Deloria drove his father to the airport then returned to his apartment and committed suicide, Vine Deloria said.

Vine Deloria said his brother's roommate found Philip Deloria's body.

The tragedy has violently struck the Deloria family, which has already suffered hardship, Vine Deloria said. He said his mother left the family when he was two years old.

"My dad's trying to pick up the pieces, trying to deal with it," Vine Deloria said. "I don't know what to do. I can't even believe it yet. I don't know what's going to happen."

Deloria is the third Dartmouth student to commit suicide within the past four months. Sarah Devens '96 committed suicide in July and Marcus Rice '94 committed suicide in September. Neither student was in residence in Hanover at the time.

At the College, Philip Deloria's death has unnerved many people, especially members of Native Americans at Dartmouth.

Deloria was an active member of NAD and he served as the president of the organization this summer.

"I am very saddened by this, because he is both a Dartmouth student and a NAD student," said Sergei Kan, Professor of Anthropology and Native American Studies.

Ruth Ann Redbird '98 said Deloria's passing has "greatly" affected NAD.

Kan said he knew Deloria and "he was a very pleasant student, but he never opened up to me."

"No matter what you're going to think it, he did love Dartmouth very much," Kan said. "I wouldn't jump to blame the College."

Deloria was scheduled to work in the Native American studies' library this winter, Kan added.

"I really liked Philip as a person," Class of 1996 Dean Sylvia Langford said. "He was thoughtful, caring, a loyal friend to people, very giving. He had a real dry sense of humor."

Langford said Deloria probably would not have graduated at the end of this school year and he was still trying to form a major, which she said was "betwixt philosophy and government."

Anthropology Professor Deborah Nichols said she spoke with Deloria just last week. From her conversation with him, she said she learned he was still unsure about his major, but she learned nothing about why Deloria killed himself.

"He was a very bright and insightful young man," Nichols said. "It's a real tragic loss."

Deloria was in Nichols' introductory archaeology course during his freshman year. She said he had impressed her and the two had kept in touch since that time.

"I know very few first-year students who come into my office and have two- to three-hour conversations -- interesting and provocative conversations -- with me," Nichols said.

Nichols said Deloria was considering "long-term plans of law school and public office."

Deloria is survived by his father, Philip Deloria of Albuquerque, N.M., and his 23-year-old brother, Vine Deloria. Vine Deloria said his father is the director of the American Indian Law Center at the University of New Mexico.