Suicide death renews concerns about student mental health
The death of a student at the University of Waterloo is reigniting the conversation about on-campus mental health supports.
A fourth-year student died of suicide on Monday. There were two suicide deaths at the university in the first few months of 2017.
Following the 2017 deaths, thousands of people signed a petition asking the school to make more mental health services available to students. University president Feridun Hamdullahpur created a task force on student mental health. The task force is expected to release a series of recommendations in the next few weeks.
“We’re going to make those recommendations public and talk to students about how we might implement those to make changes that will really make an impact on students’ lives,” said Nick Manning, the university’s associate vice-president of communications.
Antonio Brieva, the president of the school’s Federation of Students, says he’s hoping to see “tangible results” for students.
“The report has a lot of weight behind it (and) a lot of support,” he said.
“We’re going to make sure that the recommendations of that report are implemented effectively and responsibly.”
As news of the latest suicide death made its way around campus on Monday, second-year psychology student Kaitlyn Chorowiec said she wasn’t surprised given the stress of midterms and upcoming exams.
“It’s almost like it’s a suicide a semester right now. It’s just a very sad environment to be in,” she said.
Manning says the university has increased its mental health supports over the past year, and 97 per cent of students in crisis situations are seen within an hour. In non-urgent cases, 92 per cent of students are seen within five weeks.
The university currently has 22 counselling positions, two full-time psychiatrists and one mental health nurse.
With reporting by Tina Yazdani