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Sunday, August 19, 2018

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Without empathy, we will lose more students to suicide


“That class is going to be so hard. Man, I’m going to end up Agnes Arnold-ing myself.”

A chorus of laughter rings behind me as that comment cuts through the air. My heart plummets, sinking with the realization that ignorance will burden our campus until reminded of its danger.

The fall semester began in a grim place. A student who died by suicide at Agnes Arnold Hall left our campus in a vulnerable and precarious situation. This condition can be identified by an amplified sensitivity in the student body. We began seeking out the source, the mistakes, those culpable for letting someone fall between the cracks.

This conservation surrounding mental health revives every time a student takes such an extreme action, but clearly, the infamy does not last.

There have been changes to UH’s Counseling and Psychological Services. These modifications include walk-in appointments and a more targeted initiative to reach out to students who are at risk of suicide.

Every time I begin to wonder if our campus is growing stronger in the wake of that suicide, this phrasing throws me off: “At risk of suicide.” As if ending your own life is some entirely unanticipated medical crisis with a simple solution such as vaccination or medication.

Often, it feels as though suicide jokes are not coping mechanisms but rather evidence of the insensitivity our society often fosters. And that all comes at the expense of those mourning lost loved ones.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students. This statistic has incited a movement that seeks to promote the significance of mental health, but this campaign has a long way to go at UH.

The taboo that surrounds mental health has made seeking help increasingly inopportune. The anxiety, depression and overwhelming stress students face in college have becoming heartbreakingly recurrent. 

We’ve landed ourselves in the spring semester, emerging into the freshness and opportunity that a new year provides but also a sense of naivety that places us at the disadvantage. 

It seems the notoriety of suicide and its causes are buried faster than its victims. I don’t think this has to be the case. I don’t think the University of Houston, the campus I have grown to love like a second home, lacks the empathy necessary to remain sensitive to this issue without tragic reminders. 

Opinion editor Anusheh Siddique is a finance freshman. She can be reached at [email protected]

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