SLU cancels Friday classes following student deaths

Missouri

ST. LOUIS – Saint Louis University has canceled all undergraduate classes scheduled for Friday following the deaths of two students in recent weeks.

The first student death occurred on the evening of Sept. 11. The family of the student confirmed it was suicide.

The second death took place Sept. 21 inside a residence hall. St. Louis City police confirmed that a 22-year-old died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

University officials say there is no indication that the two deaths are related.

In a letter to the SLU community, university leadership made the decision to cancel Friday classes after students called for increased focus on mental health, as well as emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.

Faculty experts have informed leadership that the campus community could face future bouts of grief in the weeks to come, and the university says it will have a plan in place to “honor that time and need” for support.

SLU offers crisis resources for students in need of mental health assistance via the Saint Louis University Counseling Center. The university also has resources and information for students to seek help outside of normal campus hours.

The university held a prayer service at St. Francis Xavier College Church Wednesday afternoon.

“Coming together in prayer to remember these two students is a part of who we are and it’s something we needed on campus,” said Jeff Fowler, SLU’s vice president of communications.   

Sophomore Hunter King is pushing to increase mental health resources and wants to shed light on the issues to help others.

 “My personal experience, waking up having to go to class yesterday was tough and hard to focus on school work. There are so many bigger questions that it’s been tough for students to cope with right now,” King said.

Shannon Honquest helped start a student-driven online petition, asking the university for an additional counseling session to assist students with mental health services.  
  
“We really want changes in the counseling center. It’s not enough capacity, and students cant get what they need it’s really a critical time,” she said.

Fowler said, “It’s been difficult for the students dealing with two deaths in eight days. More than anyone could be expected to bear. You put that on top of the pandemic that we are dealing with and the restrictions on campus, they are not asking for themselves but asking for help their fellow students in need.” 

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