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University Cancels Classes For 30,000 Students After Suspected Suicide, Mental Health Crisis

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The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced that its Tuesday classes would be canceled in observance of a “Wellness Day” as a “step in addressing mental health” while police investigate a reported suicide and an attempted suicide that happened over the weekend, according to a Sunday announcement from Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz.

Investigators received a call about an attempted suicide at around 3 a.m. Sunday morning, and police logged a student death at another UNC residence hall on Saturday morning, WRAL News reported.

“We are in the middle of a mental health crisis, both on our campus and across our nation, and we are aware that college-aged students carry an increased risk of suicide,” Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said in an announcement. “This crisis has directly impacted members of our community – especially with the passing of two students on campus in the past month.”

“As chancellor, a professor and a parent, my heart breaks for all those whose suffering goes unnoticed,” he added.

Guskiewicz suggested that students use the time off to rest and check in with friends and classmates to ask them, “honestly, how are you doing?”

“We almost have a second pandemic on our hands with mental health and suicide,” Clare Landis, a responder for Peer2Peer, a student-led group that offers free mental health sessions to UNC students, told WRAL News. Landis said there has been an increase in calls to Peer2Peer over the past two weeks.

“It’s a really stressful time for students going through midterms and seniors trying to find jobs and freshmen trying to get adjusted,” she continued. “It’s a lot in the fall and it’s a lot for everyone right now.”

Guskiewicz said UNC would create a “special support network” with the help of its counseling services, the Department of Psychiatry, the School of Medicine and the School of Social Work “for those who need connection to resources and a place to process and talk about their experiences.”

Later this month, the chancellor said there will be a mental health summit and the launch of the “Heels Care Network … to promote and support mental health awareness” that will include a “reporting mechanism” so students can share information about someone they think may need help.

Parents also plan to hold at rally on UNC’s campus on Thursday to raise suicide awareness, show support for students and give out “free hugs,” WRAL News reported.

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