New York, NY -- In 2014, Marquise Braham, an 18-year-old from Long Island, joined the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity at Penn State. Shortly afterwards, he killed himself, jumping 10 stories from the roof of a hotel. His parents were left devastated and searching for answers.
Rich Braham, Marquise's father, says he found the answers he was looking for on his son's cell phone - photos of fraternity members performing gruesome hazing rituals.
"That's where we found everything. We thought Marquise was just a tragic suicide, but then when we looked in his phone, we saw all the brutal hazing he was enduring. They had one thing called 'the locked in ceremony.' They would lock the pledges into a closet. No air, it was dark. It was hot. They were given a tall garbage can, bottles of alcohol and just told to drink and puke and fill that garbage can with vomit," he told Sandra Bookman on WABC's "Here & Now."
Marquise's parents filed a lawsuit against the university and the fraternity. A grand jury ruled there was no connection between Marquise's suicide and the hazing he endured, citing the suicide note Marquise left, which read in part, "I saw this coming since I was child," according to CNN.
The family, however, was far from satisfied with the decision. They continued to battle for justice.
According to CNN, in 2017, a state grand jury in Pennsylvania chose to reevaluate Marquise's case following the death of Timothy Piazza, who died following a hazing ritual involving alcohol.
Four fraternity members received jail sentences in connection to Timothy's death, ABC News reported.
As for the lawsuit Marquise's family filed, Rich said they've reached a settlement with the university and fraternity, but "it's not done."
Rich and his wife, Maille are now members of The Anti-Hazing Coalition alongside the parents of Timothy Piazza. They are "a group of parents who lost their kids to hazing, who have come together with national fraternities and sororities to strengthen hazing laws in the states and also federally," Rich explained.
"Right now there is no federal anti-hazing law. Through our efforts, there will hopefully be two next year," he said. "What our legislation, the end all hazing act will do is require that universities list all of the hazing violations of all campus groups so parents and students can be fully informed before they join any group."
If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or worried about a friend or loved one help is available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 - for free, confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Father pushing for tougher hazing laws after the death of his son
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