- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 20, 2009

Recently recovered mental health records of Virginia Tech gunman Seung-hui Cho made public Wednesday paint a picture of a “remorseful and apologetic” but socially dysfunctional man, with little hint of the violent rampage that was to come.

The release of the records by the university addresses the long-unanswered question of whether notes in Cho’s file, which disappeared from the campus clinic, contained any foreshadowing of the April 16, 2007, massacre.

The notes, most of which were taken during three “triage” sessions at the campus’ Cook Counseling Center in November and December 2005, indicate that Cho told mental health professionals that statements he made about wanting to kill himself were “a joke” and that he “denied any suicidal or homicidal thoughts.”

The records disappeared after Dr. Robert C. Miller, the director of the counseling center, left the facility in early 2006 - more than a year before the shooting in which Cho killed 32 people before turning the gun on himself.

Dr. Miller has said he accidentally took the records with him when he left the center. He has said he found the records about five weeks ago and returned them to the university.

According to the records, Cho told medical personnel at a campus clinic that statements he made indicating he wanted to kill himself were “a joke.” The statements, reported to university officials by Cho’s roommate, were the basis for Cho being evaluated by campus mental health officials three times in November and December 2005.

The November meeting notes called Cho “troubled” and in need of further contact with counselors within two weeks. However, a triage report from Dec. 14, 2005, reads, “He denied any suicidal or homicidal thoughts. Said the comment he made was a joke. Said he has no reason to harm himself & would never do it.”

The attending physician at Carilion New River Valley Medical Center, who examined Cho during an overnight hospital visit in December 2005, noted there was “no indication of psychosis, delusions, suicidal or homicidal ideation.”

Throughout the report medical personnel seem to take Cho at his word that he did not pose a threat to himself or others and recommended outpatient counseling with no medication prescribed.

“He was counseled about the need to … act responsibly and the fact that in his adult life his actions will be followed by consequences. He seems to receive that message fairly well. Seems to be remorseful and apologetic about this situation leading up to this point,” the report read.

University officials said Wednesday that the disclosure of the medical records, made with the consent of Cho’s family, show that counselors made the right decisions in their treatment.

“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,” Virginia Tech spokesman Mark Owczarski said in a statement posted online with the records.

But Andrew Goddard, whose son Colin was injured in the shooting, questioned why it took five weeks to release the newly found records.

“Their primary objective seems to be image rather than truth,” Mr. Goddard said. “They’ve been dragging their heels on this. We can’t go back and change what happened, but put the information out there so people can learn from it.”

The recently recovered triage reports portray Cho as depressed. The records indicate he had no relationships and he experienced panic episodes when having to talk to people.

The records also show that Cho was having trouble concentrating, yet he regularly attended class and was able to keep up with the workload. However, Cho’s sleeping habits changed, and a small hand-drawn arrow pointing downward reveals his appetite had decreased.

He was unemployed and unable to interact with friends, family and classmates. Asked whether this was a change, there’s a check mark next to “no.”

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