UNC-Chapel Hill cancels classes after police investigate reported suicides

Lucille Sherman
Sun, October 10, 2021, 8:29 PM

UNC-Chapel Hill officials canceled classes Tuesday after police investigated multiple reports of suicide since the start of classes this fall.

“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,” UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said in a statement. “This crisis has directly impacted members of our community – especially with the passing of two students on campus in the past month.”

“At Carolina, we strive to put our students first in everything we do. We are living in a world that is constantly shifting and changing. We are facing major challenges and the ongoing toll this takes on our health cannot be underestimated. This cannot be solved by one person, or on one day, alone.”

Tuesday will be a Wellness Day in which students are encouraged to rest and check in with each other.

Chapel Hill police records show two calls made to 911 over the weekend, one regarding an attempted suicide, and another for a suicide. The university said investigations in both of those cases are ongoing.

Police call logs also show two reported suicides in September.

Police call logs only show what callers reported to 911, not what actually happened. That means the details that are publicly released for either of those cases could change after investigations are completed.

In a release Sunday, which is designated as World Mental Health Day, UNC’s Undergraduate Executive Branch, Student Government and the Graduate and Professional Student Government said students’ mental health needs should be prioritized and considered.

The executive branch said in a tweet Sunday it was in talks with university administration to cancel classes Monday and Tuesday, and the student government and graduate and professional student government said it’s requesting the university provide a break from instruction along with the postponement of University Day events.

“All university actions should be guided by the expertise of Carolina’s mental health professionals and we request transparency from the university as to the implementation of this guidance,” the graduate and undergraduate student governments said. “A loss of even one Tar Heel is one too many.”

Both releases encouraged students who are struggling to contact the Dean of Students team, Counseling and Psychological Services or Student Wellness for assistance.

In addition, both releases said Counseling and Psychological Services support is available 24 hours a day by phone at (919) 966-3658 or in-person at the services’ offices on the third floor of Campus Health from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

On-campus residents can contact resident advisors or community directors by visiting the Community Office Front Desk or by calling (919) 843-5621.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, you can receive confidential and free services 24/7 by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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