KIRKSVILLE — The families of two Truman State University students who killed themselves have filed a lawsuit against the university, a fraternity and a fraternity brother who they allege aided and encouraged five students to take their own lives.

The civil action seeks unspecified damages and states Truman, the Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity and AKL fraternity member Brandon Grossheim of Alton, Ill., were responsible for "injuries (the victims) suffered due to the negligence, misrepresentation, and other wrongful conduct."

The lawsuit was filed by attorney Nicole Gorovsky on behalf of Melissa Bottorff-Arey - mother of Alexander David Mullins - and Suzanne and Michael Thomas - parents of Joshua Michael Thomas. Mullins and Thomas were two of the AKL students who died by suicide. The other victims were not specifically named.

Truman State University responded Wednesday afternoon with a statement that read:

"We are aware that an attorney has announced the filing of litigation against the university pertaining to the deaths of two of our students. We strongly disagree with the allegations as stated in the lawsuit and will defend the suit vigorously. As the litigation proceeds, it will become clear that the university is not responsible for the deaths of these students. We will not comment further on this pending litigation," said Warren Wells, Truman State University general counsel.

Gorovsky announced the lawsuit in a press release emailed to at least 10 media outlets.

"This situation had been swept under the rug," Gorovsky said in the release. "The university held a short symposium on suicide and the fraternity seemingly shrugged their shoulders and everyone went away quietly. But, no one told the public, parents or students on campus about the psychological manipulation that had been involved, that a fellow student and fraternity brother was a danger."

Documents filed Wednesday in Adair County Circuit Court detail a tragic series of suicides between August 2016 and August 2017. The suicides included three members of the AKL fraternity and two other Kirksville residents. The lawsuit alleges all five had connections to Grossheim.

The lawsuit says the defendants were aware of "serious depression issues" and "suicidal thoughts and attempts" with four of the five victims. Grossheim is stated to have been the "house manager" who had access to all of the rooms in the AKL house when two of the victims died. Grossheim is claimed to have been living across the hall from another victim in an apartment building.

In a fourth death, Grossheim is said to have had access to the general area of the AKL house where the victim was found. And in a fifth death, Grossheim is said to have been a friend who found the victim.

Documents claim Grossheim told others he was "there for them" and gave them "advice" and directions on how to deal with depression. The documents also allege Grossheim gave advice on how to commit suicide, though the claim does not seem supported by any evidence in the filing.

The lawsuit claims Grossheim took large amounts of cash and drugs from victims' rooms and was wearing one of the victim's clothing.

The AKL members who died by suicide were all stated to have told their fraternity about their depression and documents allege AKL members witnessed previous suicide attempts.

In one case, documents state one of the victims sought treatment from the university and later began missing scheduled appointments. The lawsuit says the university emailed the student "but did not call him or otherwise make any attempt to reach out to him or do any welfare checks."

The documents say the university closed the student's file in July 2016. That student died by suicide Aug. 7, 2016.

Rudi Keller of the Columbia Daily Tribune contributed to this report.