Alcohol poisoning caused the death of a 19-year-old international student in a Dalhousie University residence last month, Halifax police say.

Police were called to the residence at 1246 LeMarchant St. on Nov. 13, at about 3:20 a.m., to help with a medical emergency. The young woman was pronounced dead at the scene, they said.

The medical examiner's office conducted an autopsy and had to do further testing to determine the cause of death, police said. 

Investigators ruled out foul play and determined the woman consumed "a substantial amount of alcohol in a short period of time," police said. They did not release the woman's name.  

The university is also not releasing the woman's name nor her home country to protect the privacy of her family, said Verity Turpin, Dalhousie's executive director of student wellness.

'It's a serious problem'

The residence where the woman was found is called LeMarchant Place and has rooms for 300 students over five floors. 

"I can confirm that this was not a situation where there was a party in residence," Turpin said.

Verity Turpin, executive director of student services for Dalhousie

Verity Turpin, executive director of student wellness for Dalhousie, says alcohol consumption among university students is "a serious problem." (CBC)

"Alcohol consumption with the students that we serve in the university environment is a problem. And it's a serious problem."

Dalhousie has released a statement to students to remind them about the importance of responsible drinking as they head into the holiday season and may be celebrating the end of exams, she said.

Turpin said she recently attended a meeting at Acadia University with counterparts from different universities across the province.

International students' orientation to address issue

"We are part of a Canadian learning collaborative on high-risk drinking and alcohol harm reduction and we work together based on best practices across the country."

Dalhousie will address the issue during an orientation for international students in January, she said.

"We will be reviewing our core messaging and information and education on alcohol harms," Turpin said. "We do this as a regular course because of what we know, but this is an opportunity for us to go back and look at what we're doing to see how we can improve what we do."

The university also offers an online module on alcohol harms, responsible consumption of alcohol and consent. International students will be encouraged to participate, Turpin said.

"There is heightened awareness and tragic circumstances, like we found ourselves in at Dalhousie, are important reminders. However, it isn't enough."