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Reflecting on suicide and other tragedies

University of Chicago student’s suicide starts mental health discussions

Campus Correspondent

Published: Sunday, February 23, 2014

Updated: Sunday, February 23, 2014 23:02

A University of Chicago student was found dead in his dorm on Saturday, Feb. 19 and the cause of death is still unknown. The traumatic events surrounding the student, Nicholas Barnes, have caused University of Connecticut students to reflect on their own lives.

“Certainly, I think when we see a death among college students anywhere, people who are college students think, ‘That could have been one of my friends,’ or ‘That’s how old I am,” Director of Counseling and Mental Health Services Elizabeth Cracco said.

Nicholas Barnes was just 20 when he died, which is the normal age of a college sophomore or junior.

“That is not what we typically expect, for someone to pass away at that age,” Cracco said.

This event could have affected students who have suffered recent deaths of close friends or family members.

“It grabs people’s attention and makes them think about their own mortality. That can make an impact. If people have had recent losses it can trigger perhaps some difficult feelings and sort of a trauma response,” said Cracco.

If such feelings occur, there are resources on campus available, according to UConn psychology professor Eric Lundquist.

“When you encounter those feelings and if you feel like they are out of hand, then you know that there are resources on this campus for you. You can go to Counseling and Mental Health Services in Arjona (or see its web page, and they are going to have resources that they can point you towards,” Lundquist said.

Lundquist added that these feelings could also be caused by stress.

“It is a very common thing to be exposed to the phenomenon of depression. Maybe you are starting to feel symptoms like that especially in a relatively stressful point in your lives. College is stressful. Everybody who is in the situation you’re in finds it stressful. There are different stressors that are apparent in different phases of life,” Lundquist said.

There are also student organizations, such as Active Minds, on campus that will aid students.

“There are student groups that can help you with that,” Lundquist said.

Active Minds is a student group focused on promoting awareness and education about mental health issues.

“(The) goal is to raise awareness about mental health problems, with a focus on suicide prevention as well as lower the negative stigma surrounding these issues. Along with awareness about the problem, Active Minds strives to educate students about the resources on-campus that anyone can use when they or someone they know, is in need (of them),” according to the Active Minds website.

Lindquist said students should remember, when stressed or depressed, that it is not out of the ordinary to feel that way.

“You’re not the only one who has ever felt like that. It is a common thing to deal with and there are whole departments at most universities devoted to helping people through those feelings,” he said.


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