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#JamesDonaldson On #MentalHealth – #Stanford #Student #Suicide Spurs Widespread Discussion Surrounding #MentalHealth

By Sofia Chierchio

#KatieMeyer ’22 was the team captain and star goalkeeper for #Stanford University’s women’s soccer team. She was an international relations major on the Dean’s List. On March 1, Meyer spoke with her #parents on FaceTime, presenting “happy and upbeat.” A few hours after that call, Meyer was found dead in her dorm, having taken her own life. 

Many attribute the #mentalhealth struggle among #college #students to an expectation of perfection forced upon them by campus culture. Gina Meyer, Meyer’s mother, said, “There’s so much pressure I think on #athletes, especially at that high level, trying to balance academics in a highly competitive environment. And there is #anxiety and there is #stress to be perfect, to be the best, to be number one.”

This tragedy has opened up a national conversation about #mentalhealth, specifically among college #students. #Suicide is the main cause of death among college #students and Cornell’s recent history presents no exception to this statistic. In 2010, there were six #student deaths attributed to #suicide at Cornell.

According to Cornell’s 2020 #MentalHealth Review, within the past year, over forty percent of #students were unable to function academically for at least a week due to #depression, #stress or #anxiety. 

Aleksa Dangeva ’24 attributes #suicide rates at Cornell to the University’s poor #mentalhealthresources. 

“Cornell has taken a downstream approach, such as installing nets under bridges, rather than focusing on reasons #students commit #suicide here,” Dangeva said. “It’s heartbreaking to see how many #students fall victim to something Cornell could be doing more to prevent.” 

#JamesDonaldson notes:

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

Order your copy of James Donaldson’s latest book,

Celebrating Your Gift of Life:

From The Verge of Suicide to a Life of Purpose and Joy

Nicole Werner ’22 also sees the loss of #students to #suicide as heartbreaking and believes Cornell should take more action to prevent it.

“Over the past 4 years, this #school has witnessed a truly large amount of tragedy. It is not only extremely saddening as a #student to lose a member of your community, but also very frustrating and disappointing to not see any real change on the end of the administration,” Werner said.

On the other hand, Sammy Phelps ’23 believes that the #mentalhealthissue at Cornell stems from the University’s academic rigor rather than lack of resources.

“I think the issue is not with resources, because they are available if you seek them out. My #stress comes from a lack of empathy from some professors,” Phelps said. “I think it’s more of a constant battle in terms of what’s expected of us and how we constantly have to rise to an unrealistic higher standard.”

Like Phelps, Dangeva believes that the pressure to constantly be the best creates a stifling environment. 

“With such high #stress levels, Cornell should check in with #students more often,” Dangeva said. “More breaks or wellness days could help #students relax, and better prelim schedule planning could prevent #students from facing intense weekly workloads.”

The recent #suicide at Stanford has #students reflecting on steps that they can take to improve their #mentalhealth, such as focusing on maintaining a balanced life. 

“Work out, hang out with your friends, you need to take time away from #school. Sometimes at Cornell, it can feel like your whole world,”  Paula Loudermilk ’25 said. 

Like Loudermilk, Phelps concluded by emphasizing the need to take a break.

“In the Cornell bubble, it’s hard to realize that #school is not the only thing that matters. You deserve to do things that make you happy. School should come second to your #mentalhealth,” Phelps said. 

For those who are struggling mentally, there are resources available on campus to help. Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at Cornell Health provides professional #mentalhealthcare to aid during one’s time at Cornell. Available services include workshops, group or individual counseling, and 24/7 phone consultation. 


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