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 had 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’s Cook Counseling Center in November and December 2005, indicate that Cho told mental health professionals that statements he made indicating he wanted 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 April 2007 shooting.

Dr. Miller has said that 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.

Cho’s statements about killing himself, reported to university officials by his roommate, were the basis for Cho’s evaluations by mental health officials with the counseling center.

Notes from a November meeting list Cho as “troubled” and needing further contact with counselors within two weeks. 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.”

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.

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