Death highlights academic pressure

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Content warning: potentially triggering information below. 

Calls to prioritize mental health over grades at school abounded online after a Wilfrid Laurier University student ended their life on December 12, 2019 during the height of exams. The tragic incident happened at a high rise near King and Columbia Streets. Reports first surfaced on a Reddit post, two hours following the student’s death. 

 A UW student, Ryan Adair, was the first person to post about it. Ryan is in 2A Public Health and witnessed first responders on the scene. “I live on Spruce St, so my living room apartment window looks onto Luxe in the sort of way that the body was for lack of a better word, perfectly in view of the window,” Ryan told Imprint.  

 “I don’t know what to say to other students other than there will always be people in the world that care about you. Even strangers will care about you.” The Reddit posts where the incident was reported carried the same sentiment Ryan expressed. But at least one account wrote that they reported a post encouraging people to take their own life. 

 “For the universities it’s tough because there’s only so much you can offer, one problem I think is that they are open in normal business hours when students that need someone to talk to probably need it more at midnight based on what our sleep schedule is like.” Ryan said. 

 “I was told to talk to someone about what I saw so I texted KidsHelpPhone, to be honest, I didn’t get that much out of it but it helped a little bit. They responded quickly to the text, so I think the universities should be making more people aware of 24/7 helplines, while also supplementing it with their own mental health programs.” 

 Another student, who asked to stay anonymous, told Imprint they heard about the incident a few minutes after it happened through a friend. The student started a Reddit post, through which the incident was revealed.  

 “I found out about the event through a friend of mine a few minutes after it happened and immediately felt like my chest had sunken in,” the student said “Suicide is something I’m not unfamiliar with unfortunately and upon hearing the news, it broke my heart and took everything I had in me to not scream out of anger that another poor student had reached their limit and it was too late to do anything.” 

 The high-pressure academic atmosphere was an issue on a number of people’s minds. 

 “I feel that the mindset right now is to get a 4.0 GPA and study constantly every night when it should really be that we should strive to do our best but not exhaust ourselves to our breaking points over one failed test,” the student said.  

 “I think that once society as a whole starts to think like this, then we might see some change starting to happen. To all students at staff at UW and Laurier, look out for the people around you. Offer support if you can and never forget to remind someone how important they are to you. It could save someone’s life.”  

Mental Health Services:

Counselling Services – 519-888-4567;32655

UW MATES (Mentor Assistance Through Education and Support)

Here 24/7 – 1-844-437-3247

Health Services – Student Medical Clinic – 519-888-4096

Grand River Hospital – 519-749-4300

St. Mary’s Hospital – 519-744-3311

Good2Talk – 1-866-925-5454

Crisis Services Canada – 1-833-456-4566 or by text 45645

Employee and Family Assistance Provider (Homewood Health) – 1-800-663-1142

Occupational Health – Linda Brogden at ext. 36264 or Karen Parkinson at ext. 30338

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