Parents of VCU exchange student Jonathan Dorey came to VCU on Friday Oct. 1 to discuss the six-month anniversary of their son’s disappearance.
Dorey was reported missing March 4. His remains have not been found, but it is suspected that he committed suicide due to severe, undiagnosed clinical depression.
“We found Jonny’s clothes and a half quart bottle of gin by the riverside,” said Debbie Dorey, Jonathan’s mother. “That combined with the information we got from the internet sites and writings that were found by the police on Jonny’s computer, leads us to believe Jonny died of a suicide or a reckless act, as a result of a mental breakdown.”
Dorey’s mother said that their mission during the trip was to spread a message to young people and to thank everyone for their participation in the search for Jonny.
“Our message is particularly to young people, to young men. Please talk about your feelings. Share things — do not bottle it up, and if possible, get professional and confidential help,” Debbie Dorey said.
Danielle Hoffman, a senior international studies major, said that she’s witnessed friends who have gotten too stressed from school and turned to alcohol and drugs as a coping method.
“[Drugs and alcohol] put you in a different state of mind and it can lead to pretty bad decisions,” said Hoffman.
Other students said they cope by ensuring they save time to have fun and forget about stress.
Jonathan Bowser, a freshman criminal justice major, said, “I try to get my work done early. I go to the movies and try to have a good time … I don’t know anyone that copes [with stress] by doing drugs or alcohol, but I do know people that go to therapy, and it seems like a pretty good release for some.”
Dorey’s parents said that although Jonathan was the friend who “was the one organizing the parties, the one helping others make the decisions, the solid one, the life and soul of the group,” he obviously had another problem, that not even those closest to him could recognize.
“With him not saying anything to the contrary, we had no idea that he was this depressed, and neither did his student friends in America. If the people living with Jonny had no idea how depressed he was, how could we?”
Both Debbie and Alan Dorey encouraged students to get help if they need it.
“The one hard lesson we learned from this is, if any of you ever feel that your life is not worth living, please tell somebody. Please ask for help. Please get professional help,” Debbie Dorey said.