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Mar 21, 2014 06:31 AM EDT

PSU Altoona Suspends Fraternity over Member's Suicide


Penn State University Altoona officials have suspended its Phi Sigma Kappa Fraternity pending internal campus investigation into the death of one of its members.

Marquise Braham jumped to death from the top of the Marriott Long Island Hotel in Nassau County, N.Y., Friday night. Based on photos and notes on the deceased fraternity brother's phone, Braham's family claimed that his death was the result of severe hazing during initiation process. Rich Braham, Braham's father, said that his 18-year-old teenager son was also involved in hazing fraternity pledges that made him feel guilty for his actions.

"He felt a lot of guilt and shame about what he's done and what he's seen," family spokesman Mike Paul said. "He felt he couldn't stop it."

Rich said that his son did not elaborate on the fraternity rituals but Braham's hometown friends told his father that he was deeply distressed by the hazing rituals at the Altoona fraternity.

"They told me the types of hazing that went on. He couldn't go on seeing the hazings," Rich said. "But he didn't think there was any way out of that fraternity."

 "I don't want another parent to have to go through what we went through. We sent him in late August, not thinking he would come back to us and commit suicide," Rich said. "It's what happened in Altoona that sent him off the roof of the Marriott in New York. It's clear he didn't want to go back there," Altoona Mirror reports.

A photo in Braham's phone shows a young man blindfolded with someone pointing a gun to his head. Photos of bottles with names and numbers connected with the hazing process were also discovered. The new recruit's phone also revealed text messages about use of the drug MDMA within the fraternity.

The note Braham left for his parents did not disclose the reason for his suicide. It stated that he had been on the roof of the New York Hotel Marriott once before during his spring break, but could not jump.

Rich said that during a visit to his aunt, Braham told her about wanting to confess his sins. His father said that Braham also approached a priest from his Catholic high school.

Rich said that Braham was an active member on campus and everybody liked him.

The New York Investigators ruled Braham's death a suicide. The officials are, however, continuing their investigation to determine the cause of his death. Lori Bechtel-Wherry, Penn State Altoona Chancellor, said that the University is deeply saddened with the loss.

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