Addressing suicide on campus: Editorial

The Lafayette community received news Saturday night of the death of Joey Towers ‘18. Those on campus felt the college’s mood shift almost in an instant. We fell into grief and mourning. Both the library and Acopian were almost empty, Halloween parties were cancelled and a somber mood fell on the community as students and faculty dealt with their loss.

Then, on Monday night, the campus learned that Joey had taken his own life. He is the second Lafayette student to have done so in the last three months. Ten days before classes started this semester, Sarah Bramley ‘19 died by suicide in her home.

Right now, people are reacting to Joey’s death with a range of emotions: anger, confusion, sadness. We need to acknowledge and express these feelings to heal as individuals, as a college and as a community. Suicide was the second leading cause of death for college-aged people in 2014, according to the Center for Disease Control. But those statistics are more than just numbers. They are our friends, our classmates, our brothers and sisters.

With two deaths this semester, we realize there needs to be open dialogue about suicide, depression and mental health issues. No one should be prevented from seeking help or speaking openly about their feelings for fear of being labeled with a stigma. If you’re thinking about self-harming, talk to someone: a friend, a counselor, a professor or a family member.

If students think someone they know may be experiencing suicidal thoughts, there are ways to help. Dean of Students Paul McLoughlin II included in his Monday night email a few resources for students to use when friends contemplate suicide or self-harm.

Resident advisors and PARDners learn these resources in their training so they know how to help when a student comes to them. A few weeks into school this year, nine group counseling sessions helped attendees understand mental health.

Students can also report fellow students of concern via an anonymous online form. McLoughlin said he receives 50 to 60 of those a year.

Anyone who is uncomfortable seeking help within the college can reach out to several national resources including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

In our Oct. 21 issue, Ariell Christian ‘17 revealed in a poem her struggle during her sophomore year with contemplating suicide. We shouldn’t wait until these events come to the surface. 

 

Signed,
The Lafayette Editorial Staff

1 comments

Due to two recent suicides on campus, I’ve seen a lot of information coming out encouraging students to report friends they are concerned about, for instance using this form, so that they can receive help. I am very sorry to say that while I was a Lafayette student (a few years ago), I did just that and was told that they couldn’t help my friend unless my friend came for help themselves. This student had a severe eating disorder and was highly emotionally distressed to the extent that it was severely affecting both their own quality of life and everyone’s around them. A lot more needs to be done for the way mental health is treated on campus than just encouraging students to report their friends. People seem only to receive interventions when 1) suicidal thoughts and/or physical harm to other students are involved and 2) they are reported at a times of extreme distress. I find this unacceptable. As a Lafayette alumnus, I sincerely hope that Lafayette will radically change the way that mental health is dealt with on campus.

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