An ongoing conversation


Does anyone remember the person who took their life at Mackenzie King Village (MKV) on June 27, 2017?

There was no reaction to this incident, no uprising, no petition, no walk out. A quick Google search of “suicide MKV UWaterloo” only brings up a Reddit post inquiring about the issue as the first result, and then several other news articles from The Record and even CBC on the suicide in winter 2017 that caused the mental health petition, sparked campus discussion, and initiated the formation of PAC-SMH.

Only the seventh post down in the Google search is one from our very own Imprint on the matter, and the last (tenth) result on the page is a statement from the University. It’s small and quiet with no mention of suicide, except for the helpline numbers attached to the bottom that suggests that it was.

You would think that by the third suicide of the 2016-2017 year, there would be more outrage, even from people at home. But no, there was nothing.

What’s the difference between a suicide that takes place at MKV in the spring, and one that takes place at UWP in the winter? Is it that one is at MKV, the most sought after residence with nice bathrooms, plenty of space, and a bright environment, and the other is at UWP, which is described as closed-in and poorly structured?

Was there only a petition in the winter because someone was there to sign it? Is there only a walkout this term because there are more people there to walk? Do we all just go home after the term is done and forget about all the people who are struggling, whose problems are not gone because you cannot see them anymore? Do we care about protesting only if there is a party to blame?

Sure, we can fix counselling service wait times. But in the spring, I got an appointment only a few weeks after I walked in (as opposed to waiting months). Sure, we can fix the environment people live in. But what about the student that took their life at MKV? Sure, we can fix the workload and our on-campus social scene. You may be helping those who experience depression and anxiety, but what about the mental illnesses with a less obvious fix?

It angers me that people only speak out when they see an easy solution to a problem. It makes me think that they are only trying to incite change because they can say that they’ve done it. It makes me think that they only care about changing the culture of dealing with mental health as long as their name is on the forefront of the movement.

Voices always scream louder when the problem is obvious. They always get echoed when there are more people to hear it. There’s always more satisfaction in starting a large movement than a small one. But the size of the movement doesn’t undermine the change in someone’s life.

I’m upset that the suicide at MKV was ignored, this time not by the university, but by the students. I’m upset that people only protest when there are people to protest to and when there’s a blaringly obvious problem, because those are the easiest to scream loudest about.

We should be constantly striving to improve the lives of students on campus, not only when a tragedy strikes us. If nothing terrible happens because of mental health problems next year, does that mean that the issue has been fixed?

Mental health is an ongoing conversation. It will certainly be difficult at times, but it should never stop.

I remember the student at Mackenzie King Village who took their life on June 27, 2017, and I remember everyone who is still struggling today and will be struggling tomorrow. Do you?

Yvonn Yu

2B Political Science & Science