It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. Young 19-year-old Samantha Wopat, a star of Stanford’s volleyball team, died suddenly on Sunday, March 25, 2012. She had been admitted into the Stanford Hospital in Stanford, California since March 17 after a “medical emergency” at her residence on the campus. No cause of death was revealed in the announcement. Now, days later, Stanford University officials have greeted the curiosity of media and the general public with an even more mystifying announcement. The cause of death will not be identified.
The announcement cites concerns from the family over privacy as the reason that the cause of death for the 19-year-old in great health’s early demise will not be revealed. However, many want to know more. After all, this is not any 19-year-old that dropped dead suddenly, but an athlete. Wopat was recognized as a force in the collegiate volleyball force even upon entry as a freshman. She recorded an enviable .571 hitting percentage in her first year. She had a rich history in the sport, even representing the United States on three junior Olympic volleyball teams.
The problem with a story like this is that the mysterious nature of it only fuels speculation, and inevitably, conspiracy theories. There are many out there that believe that Miss Wopat’s “medical emergency” amounted to something that Stanford University, known for academic excellence first and foremost, was not particularly proud of. Could this have been some sort of illegal drug overdose that would have thrown some dirt on the University’s name? Eager to not have any party-type reputation, did Stanford cover up some sort of alcohol or drug abuse situation to protect itself and blame it on the family’s privacy?
We at Common Sense Conspiracy hate that any of this even has to arise. This passing of this young woman is an extraordinarily sad event, but even if it had some sordid cause, such as drugs or alcohol, at its root, there is no reason whatsoever for anyone to judge or lessen the short life of Sam Wopat. The tragedy here is that no more details are being released, because that leaves the media machine to concoct its own theories, most of which will only cast young Samantha’s life in a negative light. It seems like a lot of good could come out of simply releasing the cause of death and dispelling any rumors or conspiracy theories that might arise (or more accurately, have risen). We all understand a family’s privacy, but a little more information might stop a hailstorm of ugly speculation that will no doubt only further traumatize Wopat’s family.
We extend our condolences, once again, to Sam’s family and friends, and we reiterate that regardless of what really happened here, it is a tragedy and her life should not be devalued one iota. However, Stanford University and the family needs to understand that sometimes silence can be louder than words.