Editor's Note: This story contains information about a student death that readers may find triggering. Reader discretion is advised.
Hoping to cure her boredom late at night, Dina Daas texted Grey Spector, who had already fallen asleep. He woke up and agreed to hang out for a while. The two friends walked around the quad, then sat down in one of the rooms with a piano in McClendon Tower.
Daas, a senior, remembered that after spending hours discussing everything from a book he had read to the meaning of life, both topics that the philosophy major tended to gravitate toward, Spector started playing original music on the piano.
“I was like, 'I didn’t know you played the piano.' He just said casually that he always played the piano,” she said. “He had all these talents that he wouldn’t talk about, and they would just come out randomly. He was so multi-dimensional.”
Spector, a senior, died by suicide March 26, according to his brother Cole. He is survived by his parents, Nicki and Jared, as well as his three brothers: Sawyer; Cole, a Duke sophomore; and Cade, a first-year.
Friends and family remember him for his authenticity, work ethic and intelligence. Others recall his ability to help the people around him introspect and learn more about themselves, through engaging questioning and a tendency not to shy away from deeper topics.
Cade Spector wrote in an email that his brother didn’t like small talk but would facilitate those conversations out of courtesy—and the best conversations happened once he got the opportunity to bring up a book he was reading.
“It would always be interesting and insightful,” Cade Spector wrote. “You both bounce ideas off each other about some complex thought, he subtly encourages you to tell him about a theory you’ve been thinking about, and once you start, he would encourage you to continue. He just loved watching others engage with their thoughts, in the same meaningful way that he does with his own.”
Junior Ryan Corrigan reminisced about similar experiences with Spector, including late nights on Central Campus.
“We would stay up until two or three in the morning talking about things, and Grey always brought a really cool perspective. He wasn’t afraid to play devil’s advocate or say what he actually thought,” Corrigan said. “Those were the times at Duke that taught me the most about myself and the world.”
One of Corrigan’s favorite memories with Spector was during Spector’s first year at Duke, when they were spending time in his room with another friend. While playing with Corrigan’s EpiPen, Spector accidentally injected the epinephrine—intended to counter severe allergic reactions—into his thigh. Corrigan recalled the three friends freezing in motion, unsure of what to do, then breaking out in laughter.
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The injection was not deep enough to give Spector any side effects other than acting unusually energetic for the rest of the night, which confused his other friends and made the situation all the funnier, Corrigan said.
Cole Spector told The Chronicle that by disclosing Grey's cause of death, he and his family hope to spark more conversations about mental health in the community.
“One thing everybody should do, especially in a moment like this, is remember to say ‘I love you’ to the people around you,” Cole Spector said. “That's something that Grey needed to hear more, and something we all need to hear more.”
In a personal letter to his brother, which he emailed to The Chronicle, Cade Spector assured him that he was missed by his family and friends—and everyone else.
“You are wise, careful, and true. Please rest easy big bro. I know you thought this through. You are missed and respected. By everyone,” he wrote.
If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or text “START” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741.