The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced it was canceling classes Tuesday as campus officials investigate two possible suicides within the past month.
University Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz made the announcement via email on Sunday, which was also world mental health day.
“We are in the midst of a mental health crisis, on our campus and across our country, and we know that college-aged students are at increased risk of suicide,” Guskiewicz said. “This crisis has directly affected members of our community – especially with the passing of two students on campus last month.”
The announcement read: “Following a meeting with student and faculty leaders over the weekend, I am announcing a Wellness Day for my students on Tuesday, October 12, as a step to address mental health classes. will be cancelled.”
The dean of the UNC College of Arts and Sciences sent an email to instructors Sunday night reminding them to provide flexibility to students.
UNC senior Emma Olsen told USA Today she was disappointed when she saw the school announcement arriving in her email inbox. She had learned about suicide from friends and on social media before hearing from university.
Crushing isolation during COVID?:Sure, you’ve felt it. Imagine being young and imprisoned.
“To be honest, I was quite angry because I saw people on social media begging the school to issue a statement,” she said
The Jade Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on mental health and suicide prevention for teens and young adults, found that 63% of students say their emotional health is worse than it was before the COVID-19 pandemic and one in five students have suicidal thoughts in the past month.
NS University reported 90% of its students were vaccinated, while only 54% of North Carolina’s people are fully vaccinated state data. Olson believes that school pressure, along with the pandemic, is contributing to a rise in mental health issues at university.
She gained access to the school’s mental health services in her freshman year of college, but was referred to an out-of-network therapist she couldn’t afford.
Olson decided to withdraw from the fall semester to focus on her mental health and the high pressure she felt from school and the pandemic.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) any time of day or night, or chat online.
Crisis Text Line also provides free, 247, confidential assistance via text message to people in distress when they dial 741741.