Warning: The following content contains sensitive material about suicide. I used to believe that empathy was the key to unity without understanding what it meant. So in my sophomore spring I did Empathy, Assistance, and Referral Service training, the on-campus peer counseling system, and last week I attended the first meeting of Education 2610, also known as Intergroup Dialogue Project. In EARS training and in IDP, we did active listening exercises in pairs. One person would talk for three minutes without the other responding.
The Sophie Fund, a local mental health advocacy group, presented 22 recommendations to Cornell on Jan. 17, continuing its efforts to implore the University to take more aggressive steps in addressing mental health issues on campus.
When I moved to Ithaca as a freshman in fall 2010, Cornell’s response to multiple deaths by suicide the semester before was both swift and controversial, yet undeniable: fences on the bridges. Today? It’s deafening silence. It’s now been two weeks since Gregory Eells, the former Director of Cornell’s Counseling and Psychological Services, died by suicide. Until his departure to the University of Pennsylvania just months ago, Eells spent the past 15 years working intimately with students here in both his capacity as a health care provider to our community and alongside us in our campus governance and advocacy efforts. The Sun’s reporting of this tragedy misses the mark.
Gregory Eells, the former head of Cornell’s Counseling and Psychological Services Department, died on Monday morning in Philadelphia, according to an email to faculty and staff by Vice President of Student and Campus Life Ryan Lombardi.
At around one o’clock in the morning, I wrap my comforter around me and tap the folded, paper-plane icon in the top right corner of the Instagram home page. I begin to scroll through my inbox — one hand holding the phone above my face and the other hand shoveling Trader Joe’s cookie butter into my mouth. I lie in bed like this, searching for the username “modernageboy” every Friday night. After the various bars close and the house party speakers shut off, when the lines at the taco truck are longest, I am in my creaky, Collegetown apartment searching for a particular thread of Instagram direct messages. I got the idea for this Friday night ritual from a girl I met at group therapy.
I’m tired. Tired of crying, tired of thinking, tired of being. Everything hurts but I don’t understand what exactly because it also all feels empty. And there are no more tears to cry because it’s all empty now. And that’s ok because it’s quiet.
One out of every 10 students has seriously considered suicide in the past year, according to a 2006 survey released by The American College Health Association.
Universities are increasingly aware of the importance of suicide prevention programs for faculty and staff.
There is an “emerging trend of universities” training faculty and staff on how to “identify, approach and refer students who exhibit signs of mental distress to their campus counseling center,” Ron Goldman, CEO of Kognito Interactive, stated in an e-mail.
To address this need, Kognito has released At-Risk, an online training simulation, in 2008. At-Risk has already been adopted by several New York institutions, including John Jay College, City College of New York, Lehman College and New York University.