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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Campus

Students express disappointment, disbelief after suicide


Students left notes and flowers outside Agnes Arnold Hall. | Julie Araica/The Cougar

Students gathered around the ledge of the balcony at Agnes Arnold Hall on Wednesday, overlooking a scene depicting the aftermath of a student’s death. 

A University spokesperson confirmed Wednesday that the student died by suicide.

“You always hear about these things happening, but you never think it’s gonna happen here,” said political science sophomore Evelyn Rivera. “I mean, I have classes here. Everyone has classes here.”

Rivera said that she was disappointed that the suicide wasn’t publicized more by the University.

“I think that there should have been at least some type of email from administration about what happened during this situation,” Rivera said. “Honestly, as sad as it sounds, I feel like this was maybe a (public relations) move because the University doesn’t want to put the spotlight on stuff like this.”

Broadcast journalism senior Bruno Ugaz was also at the scene. He said he was shocked by how the University and other students handled the suicide.

“People are carrying on like it’s just another day and are treating this situation like it’s normal,” Ugaz said.

Ugaz said that depression and suicide have been a big topic in the media lately, with many famed artists and musicians taking their own lives, bringing forth a dialogue about mental illness and why it needs to be discussed.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of suicide in the United States has been increasing steadily since 2005. In 2015, it was the second leading cause of death in people aged 15 to 34 years old.

With suicide being so prevalent among college-age people, chemistry freshman Melissa Oberholtzer said she believes depression and mental health are overlooked on college campuses, and that many people don’t realize the amount of stress college students often deal with.

On campus, programs like Counseling and Psychological Services are available to help students dealing with these issues.

“Anytime day or night, they can call the main CAPS number, and there’s a 24/7 crisis after-hours line as well,” said Denver Hall, a clinician at CAPS.

The main CAPS line, which can be used to book appointments or speak to a clinician over the phone, is 713-743-5454. If students are in crisis after 5 p.m. on a weekday or on weekends, they can call the same number and get connected to an after-hours counselor.

All students can make an initial appointment at CAPS by walking into the office, located in the Student Service Center 1, anytime Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The counseling service now only takes walk-in appointments. After walking in the door the CAPS’ office, students can usually expect to wait 30-45 minutes before meeting with a clinician, said Christopher Scott, the clinical director at CAPS.

In a phone interview, Scott said he encourages students to come in as early as possible in the day.

A complete list of off-campus mental health and crisis resources, complied by CAPS, is available here.

Despite the resources CAPS offers, Oberholtzer thinks UH still isn’t doing enough.

“I never even heard of CAPS before, so obviously they aren’t reaching enough people,” Oberholtzer said. “Maybe they should try to advertise or something better, because more people need to know about them and what they do and use these resources that they have.”

Oberholtzer said that she hopes people can hold a memorial in honor of the student.

A candlelight vigil for suicide awareness will be hosted by the Student Government Association on Thursday at 8 p.m. at the Student Service Center I, between the A.D. Bruce Religion Center and Cougar Village II.

“It would be great to do something for this student, not only for their sake, but also to raise awareness about stuff like this because it could happen anywhere, and students need to know that they’re not alone and people do care,” Oberholtzer said.

C. McRae Peavy and Emily Burleson contributed reporting. 

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  • lil lo

    I feel like CAPS has done more than enough to make themselves known. RA’s give out the CAPS # to residents, professor’s print out the information on their syllabi, there’s pamphlets given during orientation, and just last week they had booths and a full display in the middle of campus to raise awareness for suicide prevention. It’s not fair to point the blame at CAPS. What happened was tragic but I really feel like they do their best to reach out.

    • Kelley

      No they don’t. Talking from personal experience.

    • Linh Le

      They don’t. They are more likely to suggest medicine without trying to hear you. Even if you wanted to meet with a counselor, you had to book appointment and waited for at least 2 or 3 weeks. That was how the system used to be 5 months ago. Don’t know if they have changed.

  • Barbara Hutchason Weinberger

    Sadly, many times, a person in that dark place cannot think clearly enough to reach out for help. I believe we should all become informed and know how to effectively respond to people we encounter who may seem to be struggling, before they reach that dark place. Though, having said that, many struggling people are good at masking their pain. Prayers for any and all affected by the loss of any person.

  • Sanyuel

    Even with CAPS available to students, CAPS itself does a poor job with assisting students with their problems. Many students have gone their in times of great struggle and were only told things along the lines of “take a walk,” “try to calm down,” “call a suicide hotline,” and then promptly dismissed.

    • Kelley

      It’s true, the psychologists also don’t have enough time to listen to all your concerns or properly help you out with some genuine advice or a guide. It’s sad that the school is trying to cover this up, not to mention not even advisors have recommended caps when students have had issues. They don’t care about the students concerns. Just the $$$

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