Following the death by suicide of one student and the attempted suicide of another over the weekend, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced on Sunday, Oct. 10 (World Mental Health Day) that it would be canceling all upcoming classes on Tuesday, Oct. 12, to observe what the school is calling a “Wellness Day.”
In a public message sent to all students, Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz said it was time to take a “moment to acknowledge and reflect on the seriousness of mental health illness and the challenges we face as we wrestle with the stress and pressures of our world today.”
CNN’s Claire Colbert reported that “in the wake of two student suicides in the past month, Guskiewicz said the decision to observe a Wellness Day was due to ‘a mental health crisis,’ an elevated suicide rate among college-aged students, and after consultation over the weekend with students and faculty leaders.”
“I encourage every student to use this time to rest and to check in with each other during that day,” Guskiewicz said. “Reach out to a friend, a classmate, or colleague and ask them, ‘Honestly, how are you doing?’”
According to Colbert, Guskiewicz said the university is “pulling together various resources to offer throughout the week for students who need information, connection or a place to process their experiences. The university is also planning a mental health summit for later this month and launching a campus-wide mental health awareness campaign.”
For individuals in need of support, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress. It also provides suicide prevention information and crisis resources for individuals and their loved ones, as well as best practices for professionals. 1-800-273-8255 or SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.