Friends of Pitt student Christopher Dayer are remembering him as a kind person with a contagious smile after learning of his death.
Dayer, 21, committed suicide Friday, according to the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s office. He jumped off the Panther Hollow Bridge early in the morning. He was studying chemistry and would have graduated this year.
Amanda Nichols, Dayer’s girlfriend, shared a 10-photo post on Instagram in which she thanked him for their time together and for loving her.
“I know you would’ve stayed for me and for everyone that cared about you and loved you if you could,” Nichols, a junior psychology major, wrote in her post. “I’ll miss you forever and I’ll never forget the time that we had together, I’ll never take knowing you for granted.”
Dayer was going to enter graduate school at Temple University next year, with the intention of studying pharmacy, Nichols said. He was also a member of the Phi Chi pre-medical society at Pitt.
Nichols said in a Facebook message Tuesday that after Dayer told her he was depressed, she spent the past three months trying to “get him to go back out into the world that loved him so much, that he brought so much light into.”
“When he told me he had started feeling better, I was so happy,” she said. “I told him that even with how hard the past few months had been, I never stopped being grateful to know him and love him and be on his team.”
Nichols described Dayer as a friendly person who made efforts to get to know people and make sure they were comfortable.
“He wasn’t afraid of being honest and he was one of the kindest, most special people I’ve ever known,” Nichols wrote. “I feel lucky to have gotten to love him and know him as well as I did.”
Dayer loved music and knew a lot about hip-hop and other genres, cared about fashion, played the trumpet and enjoyed going to museums. Nichols noted that he taught himself how to juggle in 10 minutes and learned how to drive stick by reading wikiHow.
Damaris Roberts, a junior studying business administration, marketing and management at Harrisburg Area Community College, said Dayer was one of her first friends. She and Dayer met each other in kindergarten and attended high school together. The two stayed connected on Snapchat when Dayer left for Pitt, and would meet when he came back to Harrisburg during school breaks.
Roberts said Dayer was always putting other people first.
“Chris was always the highlight of my day,” she said. “Every time I had a bad day and I had a class with Chris and he knew something was wrong, he would do his best to make me laugh.”
Matej Vukovic also remembered Dayer as a positive person. He said he’s known Dayer for about 10 years — they became friends in middle school.
“Every room he stepped into he brightened. He motivated me to do better,” Vukovic said over a Facebook message. “Without his friendship and support I wouldn’t be where I am. I will never forget you Chris Dayer.”
Anthony Maletestinic, a junior studying management administration at Bloomberg University, has been best friends with Dayer since they were 13. They lived five minutes away from each other in Harrisburg — Maletestinic drove Dayer to school every morning in high school.
“He’s my brother. It’s really tough to lose somebody like that,” Maletestinic said. “He’s one of those friends I’d always want to catch up with during breaks.”
Maletestinic described Dayer as a generous person who “gave everything to everyone.”
“I couldn’t tell you one person who’d say a bad thing about him and that’s an honest to God truth, not just because he’s my best friend,” Maletestinic said. “That’s just the person he was.”
Maletestinic said Dayer’s passing has created a new chapter in his life, but that Dayer would want his friends and family to move on.
“We’re going to mourn, but Chris would want us to keep going,” he said.
Kevin Zwick, a Pitt spokesperson, said the University community is saddened by Dayer’s death.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and all who knew him. The University Counseling Center is available for students grieving after this tragic loss,” Zwick said.
A funeral will be held Saturday, March 24, at 10 a.m. in the Pillars of Orthodoxy Church, which is located at 350 West Old York Rd. in Carlisle.
Where to get help if you or someone you know is in crisis:
Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Contact the Pitt Student Counseling Center: (412) 648-7930
Contact Allegheny County’s Resolve Crisis Hotline: 1-888-7-YOU-CAN
Text for Crisis Support: TEXT “GO” TO 741741