This article could contain information that may be triggering for some individuals. If you are in urgent need of mental health support, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
The University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill has canceled classes on Tuesday to give students a mental health break following two suicide cases over the weekend.
Campus authorities agreed to a “wellness day” after a student was found deceased inside a UNC residence hall Saturday. NBC also reported that local police received a call Sunday where a person attempted to take their own life.
“We are in the middle of a mental health crisis, both on our campus and across the nation, and we are aware that college-aged students carry an increased risk of suicide,” said UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz in a letter.
Mental Health Decline
Over the wellness break, students are encouraged to take a breather and find time to check in on their emotional and mental state. Furthermore, the university has launched the Heels Care Network, a special support network where students can access mental health resources and services.
Savannah Shoemake, a 21-year-old senior, described a culture at UNC that encourages students to push themselves to work hard almost to the point of breakdown.
“It is fairly common to see students crying around campus, in the libraries, on the way to class, in the dining hall. There’s a prominent sense of grief right now… it’s become evident to me that a majority of my peers are struggling right now,” said Shoemake in a message to NBC.
In addition, other students like 20-year-old Kendra Randle believe that the school’s current measures are not enough.
“Our hearts are shattered,” Randle, a UNC junior, said. “Tuesday is University Day so a number of classes were already canceled beforehand. They chose the easiest solution. What message are you sending to students by refusing to cancel class on Monday? After we spend time mourning, we need to figure out solutions to this darkness that is plaguing our university.”
Are you in urgent need of mental health support? Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.