Adam Ojakian takes his life in Davis | News | Palo Alto Online |


Adam Ojakian takes his life in Davis

Former Paly student, son of councilman, gave little or no sign of despair

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Devastated family members and friends of Adam Shant Ojakian, 21, struggled this week to comprehend why he took his own life Saturday in an apartment he shared with three roommates near the University of California, Davis.

He was expected to arrive home for the holidays Sunday after completing final exams.

There is no known note, and little or no sign of any serious problems other than a concern about grades he expressed at Thanksgiving, according to his oldest brother, Ryan Ojakian, who was cloistered with the family and some friends in their home in the 500 block of Addison Avenue.

Adam was the youngest son of Palo Alto City Councilman and former Mayor Vic Ojakian and Mary Ojakian, and was the brother of Ryan, 29, Sean, 24, and Sereena, 15.

Deputy Coroner Robert LaBrash of Yolo County said there was "no sign of homocide or foul play" but declined to give specifics. Family friends said Ojakian had used a gun he purchased in November, unbeknownst to family members. A roommate discovered his body.

Adam and all three of his roommates recently finished final exams and were heading home.

UC Davis Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef said he was "heartsick to learn of our student's death and grieved for his family and friends. Such a loss is devastating."

Adam had gone through Palo Alto schools, including Addison Elementary, Jordan Middle and Palo Alto High School, where he played in several sports but focused mostly on cross-country and track. Coach Paul Jones described him as "a good, solid runner and a great kid, really well-liked by all the rest of the kids on the team."

Adam described running as "a pleasurable physical activity," Ryan said, along with hiking in Foothill Park and the hills.

He was an honor student at Jordan and Paly, where he became interested in physics.

Ryan Ojakian characterized Adam as a "caring, helpful, loving family member who was always willing to help -- he would drop everything to help out if needed."

He was interest in many sports, including baseball, basketball and soccer. He also loved music. He had played the piano for 10 years, preferring classical while liking to listen to rock and punk rock, Ryan recalled.

Adam also was a self-taught artist, and usually took charge of putting up Christmas lights at the family home, Ryan said, adding that he enjoyed spending time with his siblings, often playing basketball or cards.

Ryan said at Thanksgiving the family agreed that Adam "seemed a little off, not himself," and expressed concern about his grades and whether his grades this quarter would threaten his chances of getting into graduate school.

Current Mayor Bern Beecham notified city officials and the media about the death Monday morning, expressing his own grief in a choked voice.

The Rosary will be recited Wednesday, Dec. 22, at 2 p.m. at the chapel of Roller, Hapgood & Tinney, Middlefield Road and Addison Avenue. Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 23, at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, Waverley Street at Home Avenue. Interment will be at Cypress Lawn Cemetery in Colma.

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