By Aaron Thomas, WRAL reporter
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has canceled classes on Tuesday after campus #police responded to a reported #suicide and a #suicideattempt over the weekend. Instead of class Tuesday, #students will have a “wellness day,” according to Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz.
UNC police’s crime log showed investigators received a call for an attempted #suicide at Granville Towers South around 3 a.m. on Sunday. The #police department’s crime log reported a death of a #student living in Hinton James Residence Hall on Saturday morning.
Hope-4-NC Helpline: Call 1-855-587-3463 or text “Hope” to that number
#NationalSuicidePreventionLifeline: Call 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/ for additional resources or to connect with a counselor via web chat
Guskiewicz encouraged #students in a letter on Sunday night to “rest and check in with each other,” on the wellness day.
“We are in the middle of a #mentalhealthcrisis, both on our campus and across the nation, and we are aware that college-aged #students carry an increased risk of #suicide,” Guskiewicz said.
The #NationalInstituteofMentalHealth says #suicide is the second leading cause of death among people 15 to 34. #Suicides have spiked since #pandemic lockdowns were put into place, according to data from the #CentersforDiseaseControlandPrevention.
“We almost have a second #pandemic on our hands with #mentalhealth and #suicide,” said Clare Landis, a responder for Peer2Peer.
Peer2Peer is a #student-led group that offers free one-on-one sessions for UNC-Chapel Hill undergraduate and graduate #students.
Landis said she’s seen an uptick in calls over the past two weeks.
“It’s a really stressful time for #students going through midterms and #seniors trying to find jobs and freshmen trying to get adjusted. It’s a lot in the fall and it’s a lot for everyone right now,” she added.
Before Guskiewicz made his announcement on Sunday, which is also #WorldMentalHealthDay, #students called for university leaders to address their concerns over #mentalhealth.
Starting Tuesday, the university’s counseling and psychological services, department of psychiatry, #school of medicine and school of social work would be available to #students, faculty and staff in different areas of campus throughout the week, Guskiewicz said.
“We are living in a world that is constantly shifting and changing,” said Guskiewicz. “We are facing major challenges and the ongoing toll this takes on our health cannot be underestimated. This cannot be solved by one person, on on one day, alone.”
#Students at UNC-Chapel Hill have said issues exacerbating #mentalhealth have been mounting this year. They’re struggling with their academics— and #COVID-19 is playing a large role.
“It’s been really crazy to be back [and] having to come back after being virtual,” said Ishan Thaker, a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Thaker said his final year at UNC-Chapel Hill has had its share of challenges, and reports of #students trying to take their own lives makes it harder to concentrate.
Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.
Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.
Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space. #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle
“It’s horrible. We’re expected to go back to campus tomorrow and just continue our classes as if nothing is happening,” he told WRAL News before the university made its announcement.
Campus efforts to address the #mentalhealth needs of #students could be stronger, he said.
“The university absolutely needs to do something about this and there’s just simply nothing in place right now to ensure the safety and wellbeing of #students,” Thaker said.
Some UNC-Chapel Hill students said they’re planning a protest for Wednesday in hopes the university will do a better job of having difficult discussions about the matter and providing more adequate #mentalhealthresources.
#Parents will hold a rally at The Pit on campus Thursday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to support #students and raise awareness of #suicide. They also plan to give out “free hugs,” according to #socialmedia posts.
The university will also hold a #mentalhealth summit later this month, according to Guskiewicz, for faculty, staff and student leaders to address the #mentalhealthcrisis. UNC’s Faculty Executive Committee will meet Monday at 3 p.m. but officials could not disclose the agenda.
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of #suicide, you can call the National #SuicidePreventionLifeline at 800-273-8255.