Dickinson State University dean found dead

2012-02-11T00:35:00Z 2012-02-11T19:41:41Z Dickinson State University dean found deadLAUREN DONOVAN and JENNY MICHAEL | Bismarck Tribune Bismarck Tribune

DICKINSON - Dickinson police say a Dickinson State University dean was found dead Friday afternoon from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Douglas LaPlante, the dean of education, business and applied sciences, had been reported missing at 9:27 a.m. after missing a meeting at the school. Officers responded to his home and found that he had left on foot, leaving behind his identification and cellphone, according to a statement from police. Officers also learned a large caliber rifle was missing from his home.

A passer-by saw him walking toward Rocky Butte Park, where his body was found near the band shell at the intersection of Seventh Avenue West and Sixth Street at 1:23 p.m. The police statement said the cause of death appears to have been a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

DSU President D.C. Coston had called a 1 p.m. all-student meeting to explain problems with the university's special international student exchange program. Instead, he walked into Beck Hall, where students had crowded in, standing room only, grabbed the microphone and ordered the students to get to safe quarters.

Police said precautions were taken on campus due to LaPlante's apparently distraught condition.

A message was sent to students via a campus-wide emergency alert system called Notifind.

"An individual has been missing for six hours and believed to have a weapon. Until this individual is located, we are activating our emergency system. Faculty, staff and non-resident students are asked to leave campus immediately," the message said. "Resident students are asked to return to their residence halls or apartments and shelter in place. We will notify the campus via the campus emergency system as soon as this situation is resolved."

Later, students received another message that said, "The individual in question has been located and the threat to DSU has been resolved. Campus will remain closed for the day. Classes will resume on Monday, Feb. 13, 2012."

The emergency was not explained for another two hours, when the Dickinson Police Department confirmed reports that had been swirling about LaPlante's death.

Reach reporter Lauren Donovan at 220-5511 or lauren@westriv.com.

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(15) Comments

  1. mdngal
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    mdngal - February 14, 2012 3:37 pm
    Cdog, I don't see your comment as being out of line. For lack of a better word, the bottom line is that the victim's suffering is over but the chaos and guilt and sorrow left behind can't be measured. They may not mean it as selfish or do it for that reason, but you can't change what it is and what happens to those left behind.
  2. Imalive
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    Imalive - February 13, 2012 3:03 pm
    I was taught the saying that suicide is "a permanent solution to a temporary problem". Think about it. It makes sense and is worth repeating to your loved ones. Maybe if someone who was contemplating suicide had heard this phrase before, they'd remember it and have hope.
  3. C Dog
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    C Dog - February 13, 2012 1:07 pm
    JBenson said: " I do know people who have contemplated it, and also those who went through with it. And while those who contemplated it may state they weren't thinking clearly (including about their loved ones), my point is that it isn't for someone else to judge the "selfishness" of the act. If the person wants to say it about themselves, that's one thing. It's no one else's place to judge them, anymore than it is to blame someone else for a person's actions. Adults realize the finality of the act, and it's usually something they've put some thought into, even if it isn't the right decision. No one really understands why some people get that depressed, and also why some follow through on suicidal thoughts. One family that I know, whose son committed suicide, told me that they did not appreciate it when people made comments like this. They said it was difficult enough for them to deal with their son's death, but comments about his act were very thoughtless. For them, it seemed like people were saying that he didn't care enough about them, which added to their pain. Suicide is tragic - that's really the best description of the act."

    My 'selfish' comment certainly wasn't meant to hurt anybody in this particular case. It was intended for others who might contemplate suicide, hoping they'll consider the impact and get help.
  4. JBenson
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    JBenson - February 13, 2012 11:00 am
    Michael R said: "AGREED. If you know someone who has contemplated suicide, they will be the first to admit that they were selfish in their thinking. It is also interesting to note that most people who see themselves in hopeless desperation realize that when they are thinking clearly, their problems and pain really were not all that bad (in most cases) and was for the most part imagined." I do know people who have contemplated it, and also those who went through with it. And while those who contemplated it may state they weren't thinking clearly (including about their loved ones), my point is that it isn't for someone else to judge the "selfishness" of the act. If the person wants to say it about themselves, that's one thing. It's no one else's place to judge them, anymore than it is to blame someone else for a person's actions. Adults realize the finality of the act, and it's usually something they've put some thought into, even if it isn't the right decision. No one really understands why some people get that depressed, and also why some follow through on suicidal thoughts. One family that I know, whose son committed suicide, told me that they did not appreciate it when people made comments like this. They said it was difficult enough for them to deal with their son's death, but comments about his act were very thoughtless. For them, it seemed like people were saying that he didn't care enough about them, which added to their pain. Suicide is tragic - that's really the best description of the act.

  5. Michael R
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    Michael R - February 12, 2012 6:41 pm
    turnip said: "Dr. LaPlante was a kind, considerate man who was the epitome of ethical practices. He held the integrity of the programs under his watch to the highest level. The former students of DSU who had the priviledge of knowing him send our condolensces to his family."

    Not to speak ill of the dead, and I did not know this guy at all, but isn't this kind of an ironic comment to say what an ethical guy he was when he took his own life in the midst of the current scandal? REALLY?
  6. Michael R
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    Michael R - February 12, 2012 6:39 pm
    C Dog said: "jbenson... I never said people should live in pain. I said the opposite. I want people to seek help and to consider the impact of their actions on others. Failure to consider how others will be impacted is, by definition, selfish. That is not a judgmental insult, it is a description of the harsh reality. I certainly know first hand how one suicide impacted many other people, including me, for the rest of our lives."

    AGREED. If you know someone who has contemplated suicide, they will be the first to admit that they were selfish in their thinking. It is also interesting to note that most people who see themselves in hopeless desperation realize that when they are thinking clearly, their problems and pain really were not all that bad (in most cases) and was for the most part imagined.

  7. mdngal
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    mdngal - February 12, 2012 3:39 pm
    Our family has experienced suicide. Throughout the stages of grief and acceptance that follow, a family feels grief, anger, and yes, resentment. In our family the victim was no longer in pain but we were sentenced to a lifetime of it. Any of us would have given anything to help, but the victim didn't ask. Most often anyone who has seriously considered suicide or has attempted it and been saved is extremely thankful and values life and their second chance. Our family saw it as a desperate and unstable moment where the victim saw no way out and thinking was irrational enough to push it to that point. We don't know what goes through their minds and sometimes they feel that this is the best solution for them and for everyone else. But they don't see the funerals where the daughters scream for their mother. There's no nice way to describe what it does to the ones left behind. Unfortunately, on both sides of our state we have families who really need some comfort and support right now, because it is what it is and those left behind need the love and understanding now.
  8. C Dog
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    C Dog - February 12, 2012 2:10 pm
    jbenson... I never said people should live in pain. I said the opposite. I want people to seek help and to consider the impact of their actions on others. Failure to consider how others will be impacted is, by definition, selfish. That is not a judgmental insult, it is a description of the harsh reality. I certainly know first hand how one suicide impacted many other people, including me, for the rest of our lives.
  9. JBenson
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    JBenson - February 12, 2012 12:29 pm
    C Dog said: "Suicide is one of the most tragic ways to die. It is a very selfish act, but the people who kill themselves are usually in such a state of mind that they don't really think about the impact on others. Once you've been impacted by the suicide of someone close to you it gives you a whole new perspective.If you've ever contemplated suicide, please go talk to someone and work your way forward. Your family and friends deserve that kind of respect and effort on your part. Suicide isn't doing anybody a favor. "

    I've known/been impacted by people who have committed suicide. It's painful for those who are left behind, but it annoys me when people call these people selfish. It is not your place to judge anyone, much less someone who is in such pain that they would commit such an act. There are some who would consider the "selfish" people to be those that expect someone to live in pain, so that there is no negative impact on those they leave behind. These people do need help, but they don't need to be judged. There has been a stigma about mental illness for a very long time, which is part of the problem with people seeking treatment.
  10. joleko
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    joleko - February 11, 2012 4:38 pm
    WOW!
  11. turnip
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    turnip - February 11, 2012 4:05 pm
    Dr. LaPlante was a kind, considerate man who was the epitome of ethical practices. He held the integrity of the programs under his watch to the highest level. The former students of DSU who had the priviledge of knowing him send our condolensces to his family.
  12. Bill G-A-R-R
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    Bill G-A-R-R - February 11, 2012 7:48 am
    Well said C Dog, well said.
  13. C Dog
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    C Dog - February 11, 2012 6:49 am
    Suicide is one of the most tragic ways to die. It is a very selfish act, but the people who kill themselves are usually in such a state of mind that they don't really think about the impact on others. Once you've been impacted by the suicide of someone close to you it gives you a whole new perspective.

    If you've ever contemplated suicide, please go talk to someone and work your way forward. Your family and friends deserve that kind of respect and effort on your part. Suicide isn't doing anybody a favor.
  14. sehr windig
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    sehr windig - February 10, 2012 11:29 pm
    The stupid nickname rearing its head again this week and now this mess at DSU...what's next for the university system??
  15. MSIGuy
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    MSIGuy - February 10, 2012 6:45 pm
    Holy cow! What a strange turn of events!
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