Georgia Tech student: School must improve outreach and help for suicidal students

Students at Tech today are dealing with the emotional fallout of a student death and vigil that turned violent. Is there enough help on Tech’s campus for troubled students? (Photo courtesy of Duo-Wei Yang.)

Duo-Wei Yang is a sophomore at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She majors in Computational Media (CM) and is a freelance reporter.

She has written a thoughtful piece about how Georgia Tech ought to look at the resources and supports it offers troubled students. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Americans 15-24 and 25-34, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The 2015 National College Health Assessment estimates 9.6 percent or nearly 2 million of  the 20 million students attending U.S. colleges and universities experience suicidal thoughts, 1.6 percent (320,000) makes a suicide attempt, and 7.5 per 100,000 college students (1,500) die by suicide each year.

By  Duo-Wei Yang

What unfolded Saturday evening was disturbing and horrifying. Thousands of us watched the video of the incident, and were left feeling unease and restlessness. However, the reason for Scout Schultz’s despair was not much of a surprise.

Suicide is practically a norm here. Every year, there’s usually two to three tragic cases. We’re not always officially informed by the school, usually for privacy for the family, but when we are, a certain phrase is repeated, largely in verbatim:

“We are committed to providing resources for the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of our entire campus community.”

Is that really true? According to multiple students, not really.

Some have told me horror stories of continually setting up appointments at the counseling center, but never hearing back. Others were redirected to receive help outside of school. It can be frustratingly impossible to meet up with a counselor during certain parts of the semester.

This isn’t really what you want to hear when in you’re in need of help, fast.

We do need to acknowledge that the school has taken steps to improve. For example, some students have great experiences with the psychiatric services. Dorm windows can only open up to four inches or are completely sealed shut. Officers may take special notice of the Clough Commons rooftop when exam season is here.

However, the administration have not taken the initiative to actively prevent the suicide trend our school is known for.

Tech Ends Suicide Together is an initiative developed by the Georgia Tech Counseling Center and Division of Student Life.

They may argue the “Tech Ends Suicide Together” plan started last year is in effect. However, I didn’t even know the contents until I spent a length of time searching for it. Furthermore, once I did, the initiative felt flimsy and half-baked.

The website’s homepage shows two short videos that lack any depth. One is a photo slideshow of students holding cheesy paper frames of “You’re not alone” written on it set to jangly music. The other is a discussion of the word “Ubuntu,” a humanist philosophy popularized by Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela.

The “Toolkit” are a series of documents, such as flyers and worksheets, mainly made available for student groups to use. They do have their use, but their contents are generic and fail to be an easily accessible.

It would make far more sense to show features stories of Georgia Tech students that had problems with their mental health that dealt with it using school resources. Another video or graphic showing the statistics of how seeking help does make a difference would be another useful addition.

Our lack of technological aid in finding mental health resources is both bizarre and ironic. The Georgia Tech website does not have a system that allows you to book counseling appointments online and requires you to call or walk-in for services. The official Georgia Tech app only has phone number shortcuts and website links to the Georgia Tech police and Counseling Center.

The official Georgia Tech app could also a useful tool to access resources or seek aid. Despite being a technology institute, all the app has are phone numbers and website links to the Georgia Tech police and Counseling Center. It would not be too difficult to add features that would allow you to book counseling or health service appointments on the app.

Although Georgia Tech may not be the only institution guilty of this, there seems to be a trend among our school administrators to pay lip service. They acknowledge the problems of mental health on campus, then rinse and repeat.

We understand that the school is not completely responsible for our lives. However, there is a disheartening lack of decisive action from the administration.

Regardless of your opinions on Saturday night, if there was more effort from Georgia Tech to reach out to students effectively, we might not have to wonder about “what-ifs” as much as we do now.

 

 

Reader Comments 0

63 comments
Rick Painter
Rick Painter

Is anyone responsible for their own actions and emotions anymore in the world?

Richard Hayden
Richard Hayden

On point...and it would be nice to see the police officers use "common sense" as well as their robotic training...no way this student should not be with us now even though that was Scout's thought for the moment...could have been subdued or tased without being killed...this needs to be reviewed thoroughly and all alternatives should be explored...the shooter/officer himself should get an in-depth psychological evaluation

SomeonesDad2
SomeonesDad2

@Richard Hayden The police did the right thing, given the information provided.  GT Police are awesome.  Scout was a bit of a mess.

RJAC
RJAC

@SomeonesDad2 @Richard Hayden A bit of a mess? You are calling a child -- someone's child - who had a life ahead of them and who is now dead (probably not even buried yet) "a bit of a mess?" To dismiss them? As if being "a mess" would somehow relieve the GT Police from responsibility for their death? Scout was 20 feet away, moving slowly and clearly in distress. Do you think the proper response to that is shoot to kill? Do you have children? Can you imagine what it would be like to have someone say that about your child? Please find your humanity. May you never know what it is to fear for someone you love in a mental health crisis. May you never have a police officer accidentally shoot someone you love. May you find in yourself the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes.

Theresa Pentecost
Theresa Pentecost

How about parents take responsibility this was a young man who was troubled his parents knew and decided to send him to school instead of getting him the help he needed. RIP

Cosby Butch Smith
Cosby Butch Smith

Woserfication of America. Then riot when police are left with no choice. Get over it life is not fair!

Trish Gates
Trish Gates

NOW colleges have to outreach for suicidal students? How about the parents get a psychiatrist, medication or keep him home if going to school is too much for him? How about that?

Mike Pregon
Mike Pregon

It's not a schools, business or anybody else's responsibility, other than family and doctors, to discover or treat mental illness. Other than reporting the crazy persons behavior to the police and have them arrested. And if that nutjob goes crazy and does something to get himself killed. It's still that persons fault 100%. Not the cops. It's the cops job to protect others from crazies and criminals. And to get home safely to the cops family.

Eileen Penny Feldmann
Eileen Penny Feldmann

Take responsibility, PARENTS! Or simply admit that it was YOUR adult Son's choice...

Luang Tom
Luang Tom

C'mon, people....it is up to family to deal with psychotic behavior and care, not the school.

Richard Hamil
Richard Hamil

Always the victim, never take responsibility.

Marty Middleton
Marty Middleton

Unfortunately, these are the ones that don't seek help! Unless a friend steps in, how do you get them in a program?

Starik
Starik

The cop who shot the kid had no training in handling mentally ill people. 

Mary Sirakoulis
Mary Sirakoulis

School responsible?? How about that officer get herself a lawyer and sue the ever living piss out of the parents who KNEW their son was mentally ill? Do that!!! And STOP ACCUSING THE POLICE OR MAKE EXCUSES FOR THIS DERANGED MENTALLY ILL BOY!!!

Moreofthesame
Moreofthesame

You do realize that about 18% of the population suffers some form of mental illness.  They go to school or work every day.  They have good days and bad days.  Sometimes the bad days are consecutive.  They are people suffering from a brain disorder, not prisoners or lepers that need to be separated from society.  Also, he was over 18 and legally an adult, and the parents would have no access to current medical records. Most people with mental illness do just fine on a daily basis. 

RJAC
RJAC

I knew this "deranged mentally ill" person. And I am shocked that someone who did not thinks it is ok to speak like this about someone who is dead. A 21 year old child. Who is dead. Scout was a student. A young person. With a mother and a father. With friends. With mental health struggles. Who are you? Do you have children? Do you not have anyone in your family who struggles with depression? Are you hateful and disrespectful to all the people in your life or just people you dont know? Do you not care about perhaps making the world a better place for all people or maybe even understanding why tragedies like this take place? I dont know you and I dont think I want to, but please know if you were to die, I would not call you names, insult you or blame you for your own suffering and death. 

Andy McClure
Andy McClure

Students must also learn to obey commands when given.

Michael Hitt
Michael Hitt

Oh dear Lord, a cry for safe spaces will be next!

Damon Schneider
Damon Schneider

They are there to provide you an education. Not spoon feed you life.

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

Georgia Tech is not a university. Please try to get the basics correct.

I am a Tech graduate of decades ago. One attends Tech for academic training preparatory to becoming a professional. If one cannot handle the stress at Tech, one cannot be a professional and should choose another major and school.

The student was an adult and responsible for his own mental health.

FreedumLuver
FreedumLuver

"drcades ago" being the only key words here

Q1225
Q1225

@BurroughstonBroch Oh shut up.  You most likely went to Tech when the acceptance rate was over 60% and the average SAT score was under 1200.  Stop trying to ride the coattails of today's much, much, much more qualified students.


That being said, Schultz apparently received a full scholarship, had a summa cum laude GPA, and was taking graduate-level biomedical engineering classes.


Just because you struggled at a black-and-white different school than today's Tech doesn't mean everyone's mental issues are caused by academics.

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

I went to Tech in the mid 1960s with 1450 out of 1600 on the old SAT scale and 800 on the physics and math achievement tests.

On the first day we were told, “Look at the person on your left and right; this time next year at least one of the three of you will be gone.” They were correct. it was a tough school.

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

Only the ignorant refer to Tech as a university. Now I have delivered you from your ignorance. But Maureen should know better and not be sloppy.

Richard Hayden
Richard Hayden

So the student should be shot...why just not put him in a gas chamber?

mjlennon
mjlennon

This is an outrage.  Do  you people not understand what happened?  A Georgia Tech police officer shot and killed a student.  He was begging them to shoot him.  At that point they should have recognized they were dealing with mental person; that he was more of a danger to himself than to them or the public at large.  There were three of them on scene, no other students in the vicinity, thus no imminent danger.  He was armed with a multi-tool!  


So now instead of in school suspension, we'll just shoot little Johnny from here on out???


No, GT Police don't carry tasers.  Apparently you either obey their "commands" or they shoot you to death.  Some street due process there for ya!  


Where's BLM crowd?  Isn't this their gripe?  Oh, I see, it's okay to shoot the white kid?  Hypocrites.    




Starik
Starik

@mjlennon  BLM is a racial movement, not a justice movement or a reform movement. It did help draw attention to a problem but it's a problem with our many police forces of wildly varying quality - what, 19,000 of them? 

RJAC
RJAC

@mjlennon I was with you entirely until the dig on BLM. There are many people who are outraged and share your assessment of what happened.

Starik
Starik

What's this garbage about "shooting at center mass?" Hopefully, that sort of training will come up in some of the lawsuits surrounding police killings. 

bu22
bu22

We have a national problem with mental illness.  I haven't heard any politician come up with any serious ideas.  Its a good article by the student, but there are limits to what a university can do.

Susan Tennell Milner
Susan Tennell Milner

Having had a student there a few years back, I know that the competitiveness there can cause issues to flip switches in students minds. This student was an adult and responsible for themselves, but a stronger presence or outreach by professionals MIGHT make students a bit more willing to use counseling resources which probably need to be enlarged/strengthened. Maybe some of the money ALL colleges are spending on more building could be spent on this. Just some thoughts after a truly sad and horrible situation

Debra Fish
Debra Fish

Ok and where is the parent's responsibility?

Victorena Minchew
Victorena Minchew

Where is the young man's personal responsibility? He was 21 years old...he lured police to the location with a 911 call wherein he claimed he was a "suspicious character, drunk with a knife and a gun"...this is what he WANTED to happen...it's sad, it's tragic for his loved ones, it's very sad for the officer who ended his life and now has to deal with the repercussions...but ultimately, it was his choice to do this.

Tabitha Lynn
Tabitha Lynn

SInce when do parents have any control over their adult children?

Mike Higingbotham
Mike Higingbotham

GT has ZERO responsibility. They are there to educate, nothing more.

Paige Huggins
Paige Huggins

They are not baby sitters. They offer services already tjat are above and beyond educational.

James Pitts
James Pitts

The school IS NOT responsible for this man's actions. It would be great if the school offered mental health counseling for students, but recognition and intervention should not fall upon the school.

Glen Manry
Glen Manry

When "you're in need of help fast" to prevent you from suicide you shouldn't be trying to book appt's with guidance counselors. Their are plenty of national hotlines and places you can seek help if you're really looking for one. No blame for GT at all.

Scott Elsner
Scott Elsner

Glen Manry Don't pay any attention to that snowflake Brad!

Moreofthesame
Moreofthesame

I know of several people who have tried calling the national hotlines only to be placed on hold...

Kathy Z. Rivas
Kathy Z. Rivas

He was a 21 yr. old ADULT. If his parents, who knew about the previous suicide attempt, didn't keep a closer eye on things, the school has no responsibility at all.

Cory Wurz
Cory Wurz

Agree...But they sure have time to go t.v. and hire a lawyer. Here's a thought, take care of your child. Little late...

ktwalker
ktwalker

Dealing with mental illness is tough, and unless you have personally experienced it yourself or had it affect someone you love then you cannot fully understand the impact it has on the individual and those around him/her.  A person can be in a group of friends laughing and seemingly having a good time, but in their head they are planning different ways to commit suicide.  It takes a lot of strength and courage to admit you need help, and even more to seek it out.  And once a person does seek help, it is incredibly expensive and a lot of it is not covered by health insurance.

The stigma surrounding mental health issues is another big reason people do not seek help.  You can talk about your battle with cancer and people praise you for your strength and courage and offer to help.  Imagine your boss's response to you telling them you suffer from depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia.

There are groups, NAMI being one, that provide courses to police officers and other first responder groups on how to approach and handle situations involving people with mental health issues.  One of the problems with the GA Tech situation is that there was no one around to let the officers know they were dealing with a person with mental health issues.


This is incredibly sad for all involved, let's hope the dialogue it has opened will continue and real advances will be made on dealing with mental health issues on college campus'.

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

Excellent piece by the Tech student. You've featured a number of young interns this summer that were also excellent in their writing. Good job.

SomeonesDad2
SomeonesDad2

What about tasers, you ask?  Leftists complained that tasers were too cruel, so police stopped using them.  Remember "Don't tase me bro" and that entire campaign?  Now leftists complain they weren't used.  We know what's going  on.

SomeonesDad2
SomeonesDad2

@JeffreyEav Leftists want to complain no matter what.  They  want to limit the power of the police, and then complain that cops are "unprepared" when things don't work out their way.

FreedumLuver
FreedumLuver

What does being left handed have to do with Universities providing basic health services?