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In May 2021, we lost our dear brother/son, Andrew ("Buddy") Barz Wiedemann. He took his own life at the age of 31 after suffering from bipolar I disorder. 

Andrew enjoyed a healthy and happy life as a child and young adult. He was compassionate and had a delightful sense of humor; he made many close friends. He exhibited a keen intellect, progressed in an array of extracurricular sports and music activities, and excelled scholastically. He had an active social life. In 2011, he graduated from Yale University with a degree in computer science — and a future rich with potential. We eagerly anticipated what he would accomplish with his unique and brilliant mind.

After college, Andrew underwent a gradually progressive and ultimately profound change in personality and thought process. He alternated periods of high mental energy, with a profusion of ideas, inspirations, and (sometimes unrealistic) plans, with periods of low energy and inactivity. He disconnected from family and friends and became detached from reality at times. We were losing our beloved Andrew and we did not understand why. We arranged visits for him with a psychologist and psychiatrist, but Andrew could talk a good game and present a normal front. We were told that there was no psychiatric diagnosis. We were skeptical.

Within a year, further decompensation and threats of suicide led to an inpatient hospitalization and a now clear diagnosis of bipolar disorder. This was followed by 14 months of continuous professional care in supervised living situations. Toward the end of this period, Andrew joined us on a family vacation. He seemed good and very stable. He had been working out and was in great shape. We were optimistic and happy. One week later, he took his own life. We — along with his psychiatrists, counselors, and fellow patients — were stunned. Nobody saw this coming. 

Andrew’s case is fairly common for bipolar disorder, which afflicts about 1 in 30 Americans and has a peak onset between 20-25 years of age. His story illustrates the many significant areas of unmet need, including reliable diagnostic tools, objective measures of disease state and suicide risk, and truly effective therapies. Deaths from suicide are 20-25 times higher than similarly-aged people without bipolar disorder. The lifetime risk of suicide in patients with bipolar disorder is as high as 20% or more.

To honor Andrew’s memory and do everything we can to help current and future patients, we have established the Andrew Barz Wiedemann ’11 Memorial Fund for Bipolar Disorder Research in the Department of Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine. Why Yale? We looked there first because of Andrew’s connection, but we were committed to finding an institution where excellent and transformative research is ongoing.

In our research, we were delighted to discover that Yale is arguably the nation’s leader in research into bipolar and related disorders and is committed and well-resourced to continue that leadership far into the future. In each of the last 16 years (as far back as we found data), the Yale Department of Psychiatry has ranked either #1 or #2 among departments of psychiatry in the United States in research dollars granted from the National Institutes of Health (Yale’s Department has ranked #1 in two of the last three years).


Many of its research grants relate directly to bipolar disorder, including one specifically aimed at predicting suicide risk through advanced neuroimaging. Furthermore, Yale is building upon this tradition of research strength. Last year, another family endowed a Program for Brain Research, including support for recruitment of a leading scientist, in honor of their own son who suffered from bipolar disorder and took his own life while an undergraduate at Yale. And, separately, Yale is committing its broad scientific expertise and clinical talent to multidisciplinary collaborations, including a center for “computational psychiatry,” which blends neuroimaging, pharmacology, biophysical modeling, and neural gene expression to map and characterize neural circuits. This novel research may lead to more precise diagnostic criteria and treatments targeted to patient-specific features, as well as other advances.

We are convinced that a donation to Yale, where so much leading research is ongoing, the commitment is deep, and the momentum is building, offers the best chance to accelerate progress toward defeating bipolar disorder. We look forward to the day when no patient suffers an impaired life, or loses their life, to this awful condition that took Andrew from us.

We have made a leadership gift to Andrew’s memorial fund and are making an additional contribution each year on his birthday, June 7. If you are so inclined, we would be honored and grateful for your support. Any amount is appreciated. Contributions to the Andrew Barz Wiedemann ’11 Memorial Fund for Bipolar Disorder Research can be made by following the link below.


Thank you,


Sarah Barz Wiedemann

Patti Barz

Herb Wiedemann

Todd Macey

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