Evan Tran Memorial Tribute

31 December 2015

Evan Tran was his parents' third child and only son. When the 21-year-old UAlberta science student went missing on Sunday, October 11, 2015, his family immediately took to social media for help looking for him. When their worst fears came true two days later-Evan had died by suicide-they did not hesitate to tell the story. His sister Vanlee Robblee and the rest of the family wanted to open a conversation about mental illness in the hopes that people suffering from it could reach out to loved ones - and vice versa - before it's too late.

"If there was a possibility that something good could come of this tragedy, we wanted to take it," Vanlee says. "Talking about depression should be a talking about having a cold." The family urged people with a past diagnosis of depression to be vigilant for signs of a recurrence and to seek help. But they didn't stop there.

The Tran family asked that mourners donate to UAlberta's Student Mental Health Fund in Evan's memory. The family led by example, making a substantial memorial gift. Evan had a wide circle of friends through the university and his frequent campus volunteerism, and through his interests in acting, snowboarding and video games. His friends held a fundraiser in Evan's honour, and total donations to the Student Mental Health Fund in his name are close to $15,000.

The family's desire to honour Evan's memory and their efforts to grow the Student Mental Health Fund have offered a degree of comfort to Vanlee, her sister Angela and their parents, Lulu and Lam Tran. Their hope is that, in addition to raising awareness, funds donated in Evan's name might go to training people to do more outreach to identify and help students with mental health needs.