Ritu Sachdeva, 17, an Indian American teenager was found dead Jan. 31 in her Murphy, Texas home, on the same day a school friend’s body was found in nearby woods. Ritu died of an overdose of multiple medications, Murphy Police Chief Arthur Cotten told India-West. Sachdeva’s parents found her dead body in her bedroom and called police, said Cotten. Within several hours, the remains of Hillary Kate Kuizon, 17, were found by Murphy officers. Kuizon died by hanging in an apparent suicide, said Cotten.
Both girls attended Plano East Senior High and knew each other, said the police chief, noting that investigators are still trying to determine if there is a connection between the two deaths. Sachdeva’s parents gave no indication as to what might have occurred before their daughter died, said Cotten, adding that police had not previously been called out to the home. Both deaths continue to be an open investigation, pending final reports from the medical examiner.
No evidence of foul play has been detected in either case, said Cotten. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the two families,” said the police chief in a press statement. “We are treating these two cases with the care and compassion they deserve, and will continue to seek answers for the families.”
Prachi Sachdeva, Ritu’s mother, told India-West she was not yet ready to talk about her daughter’s death. The family has set up a Facebook memorial page and will hold a memorial service for Ritu on Feb. 7, 2 p.m., at Charles W. Smith and Sons Funeral Home in Sachse, Texas.
“Everyone loved Ritu so so so much,” Suchi Sachdeva, Ritu’s older sister, wrote on her Facebook page. “She was so bright, beautiful, quirky, and just all around amazing, inside and out. Gone too soon, only 17 years young.”
“It’s going to be extremely difficult to move on from this tragic loss. Nothing is going to be the same; her birthday, holidays, going to restaurants, going on family vacations, etc. I’ll always be thinking of her when doing anything good,” said Suchi Sachdeva.
Autumn Hinze, a friend of Sachdeva’s, has set up a $2,000 gofundme.com page called “Flowers for Ritu,” with the aim of filling Sachdeva’s home with flowers and aiding a suicide prevention organization. A sum of $1,926 had been raised in a single day.
“Ritu Sachdeva changed all of our lives. Her bold, beautiful personality infiltrated our hearts and now we are all feeling her loss. I know I can’t process her being gone and I’m sure many feel the same,” said Hinze.
“Even if you didn’t know her that well, you probably know how her personality could fill a room and how she could make a joke about anything. She was a vital member of every group she was ever in and it will take us a very long hard time to feel normal again,” she said.
In 2014, Sachdeva won an honorable mention in the Medicine and Health sciences division for her entry at the Beal Bank Dallas Regional Science and Engineering Fair.
Teen suicide is on the rise in the Asian American community. One out of every ten children struggles with mental health issues, reports the National Alliance on Mental Health, noting that Asian American teenage girls have the highest rates of suicide of any U.S. population. (IW, July 10, 2013)
While there is a lack of data related to depression in the South Asian American community, a study released by the Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum reported that a higher percentage of South Asian Americans, especially between the ages of 15 to 24, tested positive for symptoms of depression. However, South Asian Americans are the lowest users of mental health services because of the perceived cultural stigma attached to mental health issues, noted the APIAHF report.