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UB student’s attempted suicide shocks community

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A male student attempted suicide Wednesday morning when he fell from the seventh floor of Goodyear Residence Hall on South Campus. The student was then transferred to Erie County Medical Center, according to UB Spokesperson John Della Contrada. The university did not release information on the status of the student or his identity, out of respect for the family’s privacy.

Students and administrators waited anxiously for details in states of shock, grief and disbelief. Resident Advisors (RA) and other Campus Living staff were available throughout the day, actively meeting with residents to help them sort out their feelings as they gathered more information about the situation. 

Students who live in the adjacent dorm rooms said they were shocked to hear the news. No one claimed to know the student well, but they said they could not imagine him trying to hurt himself.

William Hiltz, a freshman biomedical sciences major, lives across from the student, but has never talked with him. He said he was upset to hear the news and “hoping to God” the student would recover well.

Hiltz said it disturbed him to think that while he worked on homework in his dorm room, a fellow classmate tried to end his life across the hall. He said he hopes other students will learn from this unfortunate experience.

“It’s kind of hard to tell when someone is suffering, since I never knew him and I don’t know how many friends he actually has. He seems like a nice kid,” Hiltz said. “I hope people seek counseling if they’re suffering.”

Counselors are available 24/7 for emergency situations and are available on the North Campus at 120 Richmond Quadrangle and the South Campus at 202 Michael Hall and can be reached by phone at 716-645-2720 and 716-829-5800 respectively. To reach a counselor after hours, call University Police at 716-645-2222 and ask for the on call counselor. 

Beyond providing counseling services, Andrea Costantino, director of Campus Living said she is waiting for news to unfold. She said many of the Goodyear RAs were in classes in the immediate hours and Campus Living wasn’t able to speak with everyone at once.

“It’s a very sensitive subject,” Costantino said. She urged the media and others in the UB community to respect the students’ privacy during this sensitive time.

Chris Bragdon, area director for Campus Living, said students will react to the incident in a wide variety of ways and should seek the resources they need – "whether that means talking to an RA, seeing a counselor or going home for a day to process what they’re dealing with."

“Our concern now is for the student and for the other residents to make sure their needs are met,” Bragdon said. “We don’t know what led to this, we don’t know what the outcome will be. Students need to be supportive of one another and to the best of their ability watch for these warning signs.”

Warning signs of suicide include talking about wanting to die, feeling hopeless, feeling like a burden to others, increasing their use of alcohol or drugs, acting anxious, agitated or reckless, withdrawing or isolating oneself and displaying mood swings, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Bragdon said RAs receive crisis management training and are relatively prepared to recognize students in a state of crisis, but he emphasized that it is impossible and it’s not the RA’s responsibility to prevent situations like this.

Gary Spence, a freshman civil engineering major, lives on the same floor as the student. Spence said he was shocked to hear of the news. He said the floor’s “close-knit,” “good vibes” made it even more difficult for him to believe.

“It’s pretty shocking. I just read something about suicides recently, that 30,000 people commit suicide every day and since then I’ve tried to be nicer to everyone,” Spence said. “So it’s just really shocking to think that somebody would try to hurt themselves especially with the vibes we have [on this floor].”

In the hours after the incident, students turned to social media and each other to share feelings of shock and sadness at the news.

Cletus Emokpae, a senior communication major, wrote a Facebook message in the UB Class of 2019 group to students who may be struggling. His words reflected a common theme among UB students who spoke with The Spectrum.

“My message is this, UB, college and life as a whole is very hard and will have you in very dark places," Emokpae said. "I've been there, I know we've all been there but please make sure you take care of your mental, spiritual and physical health. Make sure that you yourself are okay, because college is just a small part of the life God has for you to live." 

 Editor's note: The original article did not include the warning signs, phone numbers and location of UB Counseling Services. 

Sarah Crowley is the senior news editor and can be reached at sarah.crowley@ubspectrum.com.


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