Tragedy has befallen my beautiful college campus recently as one of our own saw it better to end his life than to continue it. I have been told by many of those who knew him, as I did not know him very well, that he was a kind and caring individual. He dropped off the map and no one could reach him, no one could help it. It is awful to think that people can be that far gone that they isolate themselves rather than hurting those around them by making it clear that they are beyond help. Where was the support for this kind soul? Why did the school not reach out when he began not showing up for classes? Why was it not made clear that the college cared about this kid before it was too late?
There is not a clear answer as to why the school did not interfere, but it makes the reality of the situation so much worse. The smallest snippet of a notification sent out to the college did no justice to the lost life. This begs the question, what are we worth to the college? Are we nothing more than the money we spend to attend classes? Well, it sure feels like we aren't worth much. How can our lives be summed up in no more than two sentences by a place that we've grown to know ourselves in? I have no answers to these important questions, but I have thoughts on this. College is a time in our lives that is highly stressful and full of changes. It is so easy to lose yourself and your mental stability in the midst of everything. Sometimes it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Graduation seems so very far away. Perhaps your grades are not the best or you've lost touch with some really good friends. It is hard to balance everything, but you are not alone. Suicides are known to incite other suicides in individuals who feel the same way and believe me when I say that it is completely true. I did not know the student who ended his life very well, but I felt that if he couldn't find a way out of his depression neither could I. He was an honors student, he was in clubs, he had friends, he was about to graduate. This kid had his whole life ahead of him, but he couldn't see that.
Luckily, I have some very good friends who helped me to see that I am not the same as that student. I may have depression, I may feel like it is too much, I may want to give up, but I won't. What this experience has taught me is that, as students, we need outlets. We need to know that we are not alone in our suffering. We need to know that we are worth more than the money we spend to attend this place. If this article has done anything, I hope that it has prompted you to take a stand. Be the voice of mental illness in colleges.
If you struggle with suicidal thoughts or attempts, call the Suicide Prevention Helpline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255).