Virginia Tech statement on the release of Cho mental health records
Virginia Tech is pleased that the Seung Hui Cho estate executor and the Cho family have agreed to Virginia Tech's request to make public counseling records from the Virginia Tech Cook Counseling Center.
The records now made public cover all of Cho’s interactions with the center during November and December 2005 (the only times he interacted with the center) including those records that were recently discovered among personal files of the former counseling center director, Robert Miller, and were provided by Virginia Tech to the Virginia State Police for use in the ongoing investigation. According to a statement released by Miller’s attorney, these records were removed inadvertently from the Cook Counseling Center when Miller was reassigned to a different department early in 2006.
The records returned by Miller consist of paper records of Cho’s two telephone interactions with professionals at the counseling center prior to his hospitalization at Carilion St. Albans Hospital and his appointment at the Cook Counseling Center following his release from the Carilion St. Albans hospital. The recovered records are consistent with information already contained in the Virginia Tech Review Panel Report, August 2007, and in the report by the Virginia Inspector General for Behavioral Health and Developmental Services provided to the review panel in June 2007.
The absence and belated discovery of these missing files have caused pain, further grief, and anxiety for families of the April 16 victims and survivors, as well as for the Cook Counseling Center professionals who interacted with Cho and created and maintained appropriate departmental records. With release of these records, Virginia Tech seeks to provide those deeply affected by the horrible events of April 2007 with as much information as is known about Cho’s interactions with the mental health system 15-16 months prior to the tragedy.
All the records from Cho’s Cook Counseling Center interactions (both those recently discovered and those that were not missing) can now be found online.
- Records in possession of the Cook Counseling Center since 2005
- Records in possession of Dr. Robert Miller and returned to Virginia Tech last month
The records released include evaluations resulting from his temporary detention and hospitalization at Carilion St. Albans. These records indicate that the professional staff of Cook Counseling Center acted appropriately in their evaluation of Cho, documented the interactions, and offered to provide treatment to him while he was enrolled at Virginia Tech.
As the Governor’s Review Panel reported, Cho was evaluated by Cook Counseling Center professionals by phone on Wednesday, Nov. 30, and on Monday, Dec. 12, 2005, and in person after his release from Carilion St. Albans on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2005. In each evaluation, he was asked whether he had suicidal or homicidal ideation. In each instance, he explicitly denied any intent to hurt himself or others and there was no evidence to the contrary. At the time of his last appointment, Cho was completing his fall 2005 semester exams and was scheduled to spend the holiday break with his family. He was provided with emergency contact information. As we know, Cho never called or returned to the Cook Counseling Center, and more than a year elapsed between the time he was evaluated by Counseling Center professionals and the tragic events of April 2007.
The unavailability of pertinent counseling center records during more than two years of investigation and review has created needless uncertainty and understandable speculation that has compounded the suffering of the survivors, families, and the Virginia Tech community as a whole. While the recovery of the records removes that uncertainty and lays to rest unfounded speculation by confirming key facts already established by the Review Panel and Inspector General, Virginia Tech remains deeply dismayed by the prolonged unavailability of the records and looks forward to the completion of the Virginia State Police investigation into their unauthorized removal from the Cook Counseling Center.