'Suicidal' Student's One-Way Ticket to Japan

A family travels overseas to find a young woman who left without saying goodbye.


April 16, 2008— -- The family of a troubled American student who purchased a one-way ticket to Japan perhaps with suicidal intentions pleaded with the local media today for help finding the young woman.

"We are very worried about what she will do when her money runs out," Susan Budnick, mother of 21-year-old Skye Lynn Budnick, said at a press conference in Sapporo, the main city on Japan's northernmost main island, Hokkaido.

Budnick's family members say the junior at Central Connecticut State University and native of Southington, Conn., left the United States on April 1 without telling her family members she was going to Japan. On April 4, her family looked at Budnick's e-mail account and discovered that she had booked the one-way trip to Hokkaido by way of Tokyo.

Skye's sister, Megan Budnick, who appeared at the press conference with her mother in Japan, posted a blog about her sister's disappearance at 4:30 p.m. on April 4 to a profile on MTV Think, an online community tied to the music television network.

In the post, Megan, who is in Japan and did not respond to an e-mail from ABC News, described her sister as someone who "loves everything" about the Asian country but has been coping with depression.

"She never told any friends or family about this trip, but she has been very depressed, and has always said that she wanted to leave to go to Japan and just kill herself there," Megan wrote in the post.

The itinerary discovered by Budnick's family described a passage from the United States through Tokyo to Hokkaido. "She doesn't have a cell phone, she didn't pack any belongings," Megan wrote, adding that the only item missing was her sister's laptop.

The missing woman's family also found a suicide note saved in draft form in her e-mail account that was prepared for a friend, according to Megan Budnick.

A missing person's report has been filed with Japanese authorities, but because Skye Budnick is an adult, there is little that can be done by authorities, according to her sister.

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo forwarded a call from ABC News to the U.S. Consulate General in Sapporo. The consulate's office will not open for several hours.

A State Department official, who would not speak for attribution due to the nature of the ongoing case, confirmed that consular officers in Sapporo are in contact with members of the Budnick family and with local authorities, and are monitoring the efforts to locate the young woman.

The consulate is helping the family get around and is working to make sure local authorities are on top of the case, the official said.

Helping locate American citizens in distress is part of standard consular services provided by U.S. diplomatic facilities abroad, the official said.

Megan Budnick suggested in an interview with The Associated Press that her sister previously spoke of wanting to see the Japanese cherry blossoms, a springtime tourist attraction that typically occurs later this month on Hokkaido.

"That'd be something she wants to see before she dies," Budnick said.

A man who identified himself as the brother and middle child in the Budnick family, but declined to provide his first name, told ABC News that Budnick has been in communication with the consulate's office overseas.

"We know that she got to Japan," Budnick's brother, reached at the family's Connecticut home, said. "There hasn't been much to report."

The Budnicks, citing information from local Japanese authorities, traced Skye to an inn in Noboribetsu, in southern Hokkaido, on April 7. The missing woman reportedly told an innkeeper that she was heading to Sapporo.