Spectrum | Sep. 24 1:14 pm EST

Graduate student Zeev Mendelsberg dies

Columbia graduate student Zeev Mendelsberg has died, according to an email sent to Columbia students this afternoon.

The email, originally written by the head of the mathematics department and the director of the mathematics of finance program, was passed on to all Columbia students by Dean of Community Development Terry Martinez. The full email is below.

Dear Students,

It is with sadness that I pass along to you the following message sent to the students and faculty in the Department of Mathematics regarding the death of graduate student, Zeev Mendelsberg. Our thoughts are with Zeev’s family and friends at this time.


Terry Martinez
Dean of Community Development
and Multicultural Affairs
Associate Dean of Student Affairs

Dear Students,

It is with deep regret that we write to inform you of the death yesterday evening of Zeev Mendelsberg, one of our students in the Master’s Program in Mathematics of Finance.

Whenever there is a death such as this one, we are all struck by a wide range of emotions and a deep sense of loss. During this difficult time, please know that you can rely on one another, your family, and University offices for support.

We encourage you to seek guidance from professional staff by visiting or calling Counseling and Psychological Services (854-2878). Please let the staff know that you are calling because you would like to talk about this sad event. They will expedite your appointment with this knowledge.

We are all united in grieving the loss of a member of our community in this time of great sadness.

Ioannis Karatzas
Chairman, Mathematics Department
Lars Tyge Nielsen
Director, Mathematics of Finance Program




  1. CU_Alum • September 24, 2012 at 1:41 pm • Reply

    Sad news indeed. But there is no “mathematics of finance department”. Instead, there is a degree program in that field. Prof. Nielsen’s signature identifies him as the director of the program and not as the chair of a department.

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    • Stephen Snowder STAFF • September 24, 2012 at 4:07 pm • Reply

      Thanks, so sorry about the mistake. Fixing now.

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  2. Does anyone know what happened? • September 24, 2012 at 3:07 pm • Reply

    The email doesn’t say.

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  3. anon • September 24, 2012 at 3:20 pm • Reply

    I’ve heard rumors from news sites it was a suicide. if this is true, Columbia really needs to do something. It’s not a coincidence, it’s a problem

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    • CU_Alum • September 24, 2012 at 4:05 pm • Reply

      What’s not a coincidence? That this happened so soon after the suicide of a first-year? That was truly a tragedy, but it happened on the first day of her orientation. Columbia could not have been much of a factor in her death, nor could it reasonably be expected to see the problem and intervene. Whatever led to her suicide could not plausibly have been related to what led to this one.

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      • Anonymous • September 24, 2012 at 6:45 pm •

        Columbia absolutely could have been a factor in her death. What she was feeling in the first day of college might have been too much to handle. I can’t say, but please don’t ignore the fact that she didn’t commit suicide at home or before she got here. She came to Columbia, went through the first day of orientation like other first-years, and then took her own life. She was here, and a member of this community. I do agree with you, though, in that the reasons behind her suicide (related to Columbia) were probably much different than those in this situation. Regardless, they were both members of the Columbia community, and I do think that Columbia needs to do more about it than send out emails after the fact saying “hey if you want to talk to someone about your sad feelings, here’s some phone numbers”

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  4. Anon sophomore • September 24, 2012 at 4:24 pm • Reply

    Didn’t we also have 2 suicides last year though?

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  5. Zeev's friends in France • September 24, 2012 at 5:13 pm • Reply


    Here in France we are so shocked. Someone indicated this page to me through a web forum, and it’s a relief to see that his university paid him a tribute.

    If you have any info regarding his death, whatsoever, please tell me.

    Zeev will be burried in the jewish cimeterry of Bagneux, near Paris, his native town, in France. As I write he’s probably on his way.



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    • CC '11 • September 25, 2012 at 9:51 am • Reply

      I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. Be well.

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  6. Anonymous • September 24, 2012 at 6:58 pm • Reply

    Universities have to do something about the problem of high suicide rates among graduate and professional students. In NY state the annual suicide rate among these students is about 1.1/10,000. That gives Columbia an expected number of about 1.4 suicides per year (with 13327 grad and prof students). This rate is DOUBLE the undergraduate suicide rate [which is close to the overall NYC rate*]. It is supposed to be even higher for foreign graduate students. Maybe the pressure on grad students is too high?
    *- oddly enough, NYC has 1/2 the suicide rate of the U.S. in general.

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  7. KW • September 24, 2012 at 9:02 pm • Reply

    Community prevents suicide. Not doctors or ideas or degrees. Family, Friends, Mentors, Trustful Leaders. Let’s promote that at Columbia instead of GPA and salary expectation.

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  8. Allison • September 25, 2012 at 12:29 am • Reply

    I will say as a survivor and as a victim of subpar insurance, it is almost ingrained in American culture to tiptoe or shudder at the meer mention of suicide or mental disorder. However such attitudes are not conducive to fixing this problem. Colleges and universities (whether it is a public, private, secular or religious institution) must adopt a more proactive approach in building substantial mental health accommodations are accessible to both faculty and students. For over a decade, suicide has been the leading causes of death among the 15 to 24 y-o population; it is clearly that high schools and institutions of higher learning have yet to adequately address this unnecessary circumstance in a more direct and crucial manner. Whether it is allotting more funds towards counseling centers and crisis hotlines, training Resident Life, Administration to better recognize suicidal behavior, the sheer reality that this is the third suicide in a month is telling mental health is not being properly or fully considered. We can no longer stand accept suicide as a taboo topic, we need to create a deeper sense of awareness among our peers regarding mental health. The Columbia community represents some of the best and brightest in the country, as academics we should be able to create as well as share a general feeling of openness when it comes to our well-being.

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  9. tom • October 1, 2012 at 11:59 am • Reply

    when come to mathematics. may be university need to call up student to do more activity regarding to sports, singing or other more relaxing activities other than works.

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