If you are having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. The hotline is open 24/7 and is free and confidential. Additional resources are available here.
At least nine students at the University of Southern California have died since the fall semester began, a USC School of Cinematic Arts spokesperson confirmed to The Wrap on Tuesday. Two students were enrolled in the School of Cinematic Arts, but a coroner has not yet determined the causes of death, the spokesperson said.
While the university says it is still working to confirm the cause of deaths, a university health officer told the Daily Trojan on Monday that three students had died by suicide.
In an email Saturday, USC President Carol Folt pushed back against speculation that all the deaths are suicide-related. “These tragic losses have resulted from a number of different causes. In some cases the cause of death is still undetermined, and in others the loved ones do not want details disclosed,” Folt wrote. “These student losses are devastating and heartbreaking for all of us.”
In response to these deaths, the first of which was reported in late August, students are calling on the university to improve its mental health resources and improve the ways in which information about student deaths are disseminated to the USC community.
“Anger is a huge part of the grieving process, and it’s very easy to want to blame and point fingers, but it’s important to remember that we’re all on the same side and that nobody wants this,” Krupa Naik, a junior majoring in cinema and media studies, told the Daily Trojan. “But we don’t feel that as a student body. We don’t feel like the school was making an effort to make that known and to hear us.”
But university officials have said that they need to be careful with how information is shared with students to both prevent misinformation from spreading and reduce risk to students who might be vulnerable to seeing repeated announcements about student deaths.
“This is, in my estimation, a very complicated and difficult issue,” USC’s vice president for student affairs, Winston Crisp, told the Daily Trojan. “At the same time, we have grave concerns about the evolving nature of some of the mental health concerns.”