How does U of T inform students of suicides? I only hear about them from friends or I suspect that something occurs after clubs/groups post about mental health on social media.
i’m glad you sent this in because i was meaning to put something up on this subject. i spent a good chunk of yesterday at the protest, and my heart is with those who lost a loved one this weekend as well as everyone who’s even been marginally affected. i know it was triggering for a lot of people; i myself had to skip a few classes because i just… couldn’t. and this time, i didn’t even lose someone– for those who did, i can’t even imagine what things are like right now.
from what i’ve heard and could find, u of t’s practice every time a suicide happens is to keep things quiet. with the most recent one, the health and wellness director janine robb either would not or could not confirm anything beyond a “tragic incident.” if there is an official policy enforcing this (there probably is lol bureaucracy), it’s not one that was transparent enough for me to find. apparently the family did ask for privacy at this time, which i respect.
as far as i know, the policy for on-campus student organizations and publications like the varsity is only to report the facts they have available at the time. as i’m sure you know, every time there’s an ‘incident’ (in robb’s words) a lot of speculation starts to swirl around, and so they’re careful to only publish information that’s been confirmed several times over. especially because this is such a fraught and painful situation, the students running papers and the like are being particularly cautious.
i do understand, though, the craving for more humanity from the institution that is u of t. it definitely makes me angry, that it feels like these deaths are just being swept under the rug as if they really were just numbers and not beloved members of our community. we have nothing to remember the people we’ve lost by– no names, not even the vaguest trace of an identity. to me and some of the others i’ve been talking to, it feels like remembering their names matters because under different circumstances, those names could have been ours. but good lord, the family has every right to their privacy. and i’m not sure of any happy medium between the two.
if there is an underlying anxiety to your question, it’s definitely one i understand. i called one of my close friends from home last night to work through what i was feeling, and when they asked if i knew the person who died, i realized– i can’t be sure. i guess if they were someone i was close to i would already have heard, but there are so many people at this school we know in passing, chat with outside lectures but otherwise don’t keep up with. u of t is a big school, but in some ways it’s also very small– there’s only a few degrees of separation between any two students. so when the school loses someone, we feel it. and we wonder.
i know you didn’t ask, but if you or anyone reading this wants to get involved with improving the system, you can check out this facebook page where a movement seems to be gaining ground. as well, the how many lives project is an up-and-coming attempt to create a student space for dialogue around mental health at the university, in an effort towards greater transparency. there’s a very clear systemic failure here, but with the breakthrough to admin last night at the protest, we have a real opportunity to begin collaborating with the university on some change. let’s not waste it.
three in one year is too many. one would have been too many. i had to rewrite this post from scratch since i lost the original version, so i’m pretty drained now and all out of words. but my ask box is always open for these heavier things, in addition to academic advice and fun stuff. i’m not a specialist and don’t even feel like an adult, so i want to be careful about the responsibility i take on here and want to be clear i’m not offering therapy. but i feel like it’s only honest to, on this platform, acknowledge what students at this school struggle with. even if i’m anonymous, i want this to be a place you can come to ask a question and get a lil humanity back, yknow?
wanna leave everyone lurking on this blog with a few words of encouragement: you are loved. your presence in the lives of those around you is valuable. and if there’s anything you’re struggling through right now, don’t be afraid to ask for help. i know wait times with health & wellness are long, and no one wants to be a burden to their friends. but please. this world is better with you in it.
all my best,