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Former student dies

Teresa Fralish | Tuesday, November 4, 2003

A former Notre Dame student was found dead in an apparent suicide in Bloomington, Indiana Saturday morning.

Brian Berg, a former member of the class of 2004 from Wheaton, Indiana, had a history of mental illness and had been enrolled in a resident treatment program for his illness in Bloomington at the time of his death, his mother Julie Berg said.

Sgt. David Drake of the Bloomington Police Department said Berg’s body was found Saturday morning and police had no reason to believe foul play was involved.

Berg’s mother said her son was on his way to a Halloween party Friday night in Bloomington and did not return to the treatment center for its nightly curfew.

Berg, a computer engineering major, participated in Notre Dame’s London Program during the fall of his junior year in 2002 and began to show signs of what counselors initially thought was homesickness, his mother said. After returning to the United States in the spring, Berg was placed on medication and eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia, his mother said.

“The electronic signals between his left-brain and right-brain short-circuited,” she said.

Berg took a leave of absence from the University for the spring 2003 semester, and officially withdrew in August.

At the treatment center, Julie Berg said counselors thought her son was progressing well and, as a result, was beginning to gain more independence.

She said she was confident the treatment center – which she described as the best in the region – would help her son.

“They had actually enrolled him to start taking a class at Indiana University,” she said. “He had a job. He was on the road to recovery.”

Counselors had made arrangements for Berg to live independently in his own apartment within the upcoming month, she said.

In light of these improvements, Berg’s mother said the suicide was completely unexpected by the treatment center counselors.

“They think something snapped in him,” she said. “He was not suicidal.”

Until his junior year, friends and family said Berg loved being a student at Notre Dame.

“He was valedictorian of his high school class. He wanted to go to Notre Dame since he was a little kid,” his mother said. “He was ecstatic [about getting into the London Program.]”

“We used to play pool all the time,” said Kristin Cordova, one of Berg’s friends who kept in touch through e-mail. “One of the best memories [was] dining hall dinners. I always remember Brian’s smile.”

Berg was also “extremely close” to his younger sister, currently a junior in high school, his mother said.

“He was really fun-loving,” said senior Annie Moranski, who dated Berg during their freshmen and sophomore years. “He always made us laugh.”

Like his mother, Moranski said news of Berg’s death was unexpected.

“It came as a huge shock. I’ve never lost someone close to me,” she said.

Ed Mack, rector of O’Neill Hall, Berg’s former dorm, said a memorial Mass is being planned for later this week.

Funeral services for Berg will be held Wednesday at 10 a.m. at St. Cecilia Catholic Church in DeMotte, Ind. A visitation will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. today at Jackson Funeral Services in DeMotte, Ind.