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UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin Gossews cancels Valentine’s Day classes after two suicides in a month

After two suicides on campus in just one month, the Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill canceled Tuesday’s classes, acknowledging that the school was in the midst of a “mental health crisis.”

The last-minute decision was announced Sunday night, when student leaders called for an opportunity to mourn and reflect on the recent student deaths.

“We are in the midst of a mental health crisis, both on campus and across the nation, and we are aware that college-age students are at increased risk of suicide,” said Chancellor Kevin Gaskiewicz. Letter To the students and staff of the school at the end of Sunday. “This crisis has directly affected members of our community – especially with the passing of two students on campus last month.”

“We are facing major challenges and the toll on our health cannot be reduced,” he added.

The cancellation of Tuesday’s classes fell short of the demands of student leaders because half-day classes had already been canceled for “University Day”, an annual event commemorating the school’s history.

Lamar Richards, president of the student body, stepped back on Twitter after a day’s break to threaten teachers who refused to cancel classes on Monday.

“If you’re a professor who needs a class to meet tomorrow, you’re part of the problem.” Wrote on twitter At the end of sunday. “We are not switching on and off machines. I don’t care what you are not allowed to do. We are students and we need a break.

Since the beginning of the autumn semester, there has been a class-free day in police investigations into suicides.

Last month, the UNC Police Department found a corpse in a jungle theater that was thought to be a suicide, according to campus police. Posted online.

On Friday morning, campus police reported a 911 call to a suicide at the Hunton James Residence Hall, followed by another call about a suicide attempt at Greenwell Towers South on Sunday morning.

Kathleen Campbell, 26, a fourth-year PhD student who teaches American studies classes to undergraduates, told the Daily Beast on Monday that the university has been slow to discuss student deaths.

Campbell said he held an “optional” class on Monday to provide space for the students to gather, and said the students had expressed that they were “really disappointed and angry” about it. He described the “lack of advanced care”. University, “To solve mental health problems.

“After almost two years of isolation, people are reuniting socially – people are reaching their breaking point – which is obviously what happened this weekend,” Campbell said.

He suggested that students could “fall apart” due to a lack of funding for counseling services and business among staff.

“Their staff seems to be overwhelmed and students find it difficult to find a doctor on campus and eventually have to leave campus for care,” he said.

A series of High profile exits In the Faculty of Color, incl. New York Times Campbell said journalist Nicole Hannah Jones has also caused a stir at the school in recent months.

Student government leaders on Sunday called on school officials to suspend classes starting Monday until the end of Tuesday, urging grief and “to ensure that their Mental health needs should be considered and met. ”

UNC Undergraduate Student Government and Graduate and Professional Student Government Written In a joint letter, “The damage to a tar heel is too great.”

Instead of classes, Tuesday has been designated as “Fitness Day” and students are encouraged to relax, reflect and check in together.

If you or a loved one is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or the Talk Text Crisis text line at 741741.

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