Second-year SUNY New Paltz student Daniel “Danny” Klein passed away last week, as shared in a campus-wide email from college president Donald Christian on Friday, April 17. Investigators from the Ulster County Sheriff’s Department have found no evidence of foul play at the off-campus scene.
Klein, 20, was a Suffern, New York native and an advocate for those diagnosed with behavioral disorders — particularly for Asperger’s syndrome, a condition on the autism spectrum that causes difficulties in communicating and socializing with others, which he himself was diagnosed with at age four.
In February, a narrative Klein wrote of personal challenges with the disorder and also critiquing the nation’s mental health system was published in an on-campus magazine, Social Pioneering Monthly, in which he shared his personal experiences and offered solace for those who feel they may be grappling with mental health-related difficulties.
“My brain is physically wired differently than that of someone’s who is neurologically typical,” Klein wrote. “Throughout all these differences, though, I’m still a regular kid who can very much relate to those that are neurologically typical, which is, believe it or not, most of you reading this. I attend college classes on a regular basis. I still engage in activities that kids my age do such as snowboarding, playing video games, guitar (though I play lefty), watching Netflix and reading. Socially, I have made more friends attending college here at SUNY New Paltz than anywhere else in my life.”
In light of his passing, Klein’s friends shared their memories as posts on his Facebook page — among them, a link to an online donation page created in his honor. According to the gofundme.com page, Klein had been saving up money to donate to Jawonio; a Hudson Valley lifespan service provider for those with developmental disabilities, behavioral health challenges and chronic medical conditions.
Since the page’s creation on April 18, more than $20,000 has been donated to the fund in his honor.
“Danny understood what it was like to be different and it was important to him to support other people who faced obstacles in their lives,” the page reads. “Please help us honor Danny’s memory and his desire to serve others.”
The Counseling Center staff encourages any student seeking help, in personal feelings of loss or otherwise, to contact their office at 845-257-2920. For professors and staff who are interested in speaking with someone, the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available at 845-257-2886.