3 Santa Clara University students’ deaths linked to mental health issues; group calls action

3 mins read

Some students in Santa Clara University claim they have mental health battles – weeks after three learners in the same school have died, with two of them being 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,” Raul Orellana, a senior student, told KRON4.

After the tragic deaths, some students created a group and are now encouraging the administrators of Santa Clara University to have mental health counseling services accessible, as well as to provide academic compassion and improve the communication on school premises.

One of the students, a 19-year-old freshman majoring in computer science, took his own life on Sunday. Flowers were put outside his dorm.

On Monday, the students were informed of the tragedy by University president Lisa A. Kloppenberg. “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,” she wrote in a email.

Another suicide victim was the 22-year-old graduate who died on Oct. 26.

The school lacks on its mental health services provision, so the students complained to kron4. There were some who said they made scheduled counseling services but they were made to wait for a couple to three 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.

Another junior student, Meg Wu, said they plan to protest for the school’s effort on the issue. The rally is set on Thursday, 12:15 p.m. on campus.

A petition was also set up by student Molly Tucker on Change.org, the “Petition for Academic Leniency & Contracted Crisis Counseling at SCU,” which has so far gathered 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.”