Dad: Penn State Frat’s Hazing Led to Son’s Suicide

Lawsuit targets Phi Sigma Kappa at the Altoona campus.


A family that says hazing caused their son to take his own life is suing Penn State Altoona and the now-suspended fraternity they claim is responsible.

Marquise Braham was 18 when he killed himself in March 2014 — the result, his family says in the new lawsuit, of a punishing cycle of hazing at the hands of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity.

“By December 2013, Penn State staff knew Marquise had been hazed for months, including, among other things, being forced to consume gross amounts of alcohol, chug bottles of Listerine, swallow live fish, fight fellow pledges; being burned with candle wax, deprived of sleep for 89 hours, locked in a room with other pledges, alcohol, and a trashcan to catch their vomit; having a gun held to his head; and being forced to kill, gut, and skin animals,” the lawsuit says.

It adds: “Penn State staff knew Marquise was suffering physically, psychologically, and academically. Rather than intervene, report, and prevent such illegal misconduct from continuing, as required by Pennsylvania law and Penn State’s own policies and procedures, Penn State disregarded this information, failed to act, and actually counseled Marquise over a period of months to endure the hazing.”

Braham’s father, Rich, is the plaintiff in the case, which was filed Tuesday in Philadelphia.

The family pointed to hazing as a reason for Marquise’s suicide soon after it occurred; the following fall Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity was suspended from Penn State Altoona for six years. A Penn State spokeswoman this week declined to comment on the litigation.  

“What happened to Marquise and my family should NEVER happen to any other family,” Rich Braham said in a written statement accompanying the lawsuit. “My family hopes this lawsuit will ensure that other families never have to endure the pain we are still going through.”

See the lawsuit below.

For confidential support if you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Learn about the warning signs of suicide at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.