‘We are scared’: Santa Clara University students demand mental health services after 3 deaths

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KRON) — Three Santa Clara University students have died in recent weeks and some students on campus said they are struggling mentally with grief.

Students told KRON4 that two of the deaths were suicides.

“They were younger underclassmen. To hear about their loss was very difficult for me. It’s been difficult to cope. I’ve been feeling very down and sad,” senior Raul Orellana said.

In the wake of the tragedies, a group of students is urging Santa Clara University administrators to provide more mental health counseling services, grant academic leniency for the fall quarter, and improve communication on campus.

Flowers were left outside a dorm where a freshman majoring in computer science killed himself on Sunday. He was 19-years-old.

University president Lisa A. Kloppenberg sent an email to students Monday writing, “With a heavy heart, I share the news of the death of a valued community member last night. We offer our deep condolences to his family. Members of Campus Ministry; Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS); Residence Life; and the Office of Student Life have made themselves available to assist those needing comfort or support.”

A 22-year-old graduate student killed himself on Oct. 26.

Students told KRON4 that mental health services being provided by their university are not enough. Some said when they made appointments for CAPS counseling services, they were told that the wait time would be 2-3 months.

“The university has not really provided any adequate support for students during this time. We’ve had student leaders request and ask for academic leniency. The university has not responded to that appropriately,” Orellana said.

Meg Wu, a junior, is organizing a rally on campus next to Mission Church at 12:15 p.m. Thursday to demand action from the university.

The university’s spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

Student Molly Tucker launched a petition, “Petition for Academic Leniency & Contracted Crisis Counseling at SCU,” on Change.org that has so far collected 11,000 signatures.

“In less than a month, the community of Santa Clara University has experienced three tragic deaths. In the same month, we have been expected to attend all classes, complete all assignments, and ace all midterms and assessments. Santa Clara is not a large school – even a single death cannot be swept under the rug in a way where not every single student is affected by it. The expectation to ‘Keep on and Carry on’ is dehumanizing,” Tucker wrote.

“We are scared. We are speechless. Students are scattering home or away from the campus,” Tucker wrote.

If you or someone you know might be at risk of suicide, here are ways to help:

Call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It provides free and confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week for people in suicidal crisis or distress. You can also call 1-800-273-8255 to talk to someone about how you can help a person in crisis. 

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