Catherine Clarke says there’s been a “desperate cry” for help at the University of Toronto after its administration was slow to acknowledge the suicide of a student.
“I just felt like enough is enough,” said Clarke, a second-year psychology student. “If nobody is doing anything, I need to step up and do something.”
The university has been under fire for the past week after a student took his life March 17 at the Bahen Centre on the St. George campus.
In the first few days after the incident, the school was reluctant to name the student or acknowledge the death was caused by suicide, angering students. The university said it was abiding by the wishes of the family, which wanted privacy.
Another student died at the Bahen Centre on June 24 by the same means.
Clarke and others want more reliable resources for mental health on campus. She started a petition to raise awareness of the mental health crisis that affects many students on campus.
The petition gives the students a chance to share their ideas with each other and the school. Clarke added that the easiest way to reach as many people as possible was to start a petition.
Julia Normoyle, a second-year psychology student at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus, partnered with Clarke on the petition. Normoyle wants to see more resources for mental health on campus, and to see them better advertised.
“I know that students are not aware of all the resources, and the resources are lacking,” she said.
There are not enough crisis workers to accommodate the amount of people who need help, and wait times can be up to a month, Clarke added.
One idea that surfaced as students signed the petition was to have the university bring in outside professionals in order to reduce the wait list, Clarke said.
Earlier this week, U of T president Meric Gertler told CBC Toronto’s Metro Morning radio show that the university is open to all ideas.
“We feel your pain and we understand why you are frustrated, anxious, angry. We would welcome their [student] suggestions about things we could do better. I would be the first to admit that our system is not perfect and that we can do better.”
Students also have access to Good 2 Talk at 1-866-925-5454 or https://t.co/nar9LSuJTj. This is a free service for post-secondary students in Ontario, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Good 2 Talk is a free, confidential helpline providing counselling and referrals. (4/5)
— University of Toronto (@UofT) March 18, 2019
Where you can get help:
Canada Suicide Prevention Service
Toll free line (24/7): 1-833-456-4566
Text: 45645. Available daily 4 p.m.-12 a.m. ET
Kids Help Phone
Text Services: Text “CONNECT” to 686868 (also serving adults)
Chat Services: (6 p.m.-2 a.m. ET) kidshelpphone.ca
Youthspace.ca NEED2 Suicide Prevention, Eduction & Support
Youth Text (6 p.m.-12 a.m. PT): (778) 783-0177
Youth Chat (6 p.m.-12 a.m. PT): www.youthspace.ca