Reaching Out Saves Lives: On the Importance of Speaking about Student Mental Health, Opinion Piece

Written by: Sam Locke; UWB student

Trigger warning: mentions of suicide and mental illness

It is 10 a.m. on February 18, 2019. I am lying in bed, sick with a fever. I receive a text. “Did you hear the news?” One of my close friends from high school, now a freshman in college, has died by suicide. Time slows, surreal, as news of his death travels, a morose not-quite gossip. I am asked if I’m okay (how can I be?) and if I’ve checked in on my friends.

March 26, 2021. I walk around the house wearing a sweatshirt I bought a few weeks ago to support the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, emblazoned with the phrase “Reaching Out Saves Lives.”1 The pain of his death still beats a steady tattoo beneath my rib cage. The week has been marked by tragedy: the suicide of Hieu Doan (23)2 less than a month after the death (cause undisclosed) of Aayush Singh (19)3, the massacres in Georgia and Colorado, and the increased violence against our Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Some days—most days—feel unbearable, like Atlas heaving the weight of the world upon his shoulders, slowly crumbling.

According to the Center for Disease Control, in a panel survey on adults in the U.S. between June 24 and June 30, 2020, “40.9% of respondents reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition.”4 Within the University of Washington Bothell National College Health Assessment III from Spring 2020, 49.5 percent of UWB students responded with moderate to severe psychological distress, 53.3 percent responded positive for loneliness, and 11.8 percent of students reported they had engaged in intentional self-harm within the last 12 months. 80.9 percent of students reported they had experienced moderate to high stress within the last 12 months, with academics, finances, and the death of a loved one ranking among the highest of listed stressors.5

It is imperative that we open more dialogues around mental illness on the UWB campus—and on all college campuses throughout the state of Washington—beginning with our administrations. We cannot move forward and create honest healing within our community without first acknowledging the harm our community is experiencing. This must begin at the top, with our administration acknowledging the deaths of students and appropriating proper funding toward our currently underfunded and overworked Counseling Center. This also means offering adequate trauma resources in the wake of these tragedies. Currently, these efforts are being led by students, which creates an undue amount of stress where stress already overflows.

We must also open dialogues around mental illness on our campus. As the data reflects, many of us are suffering, and more than half of us feel we are suffering alone. This begins with checking in on our loved ones because reaching out does save lives. But it also means creating more spaces within the campus where we can have these conversations, so none of us are suffering in silence. For those of us who have experienced these losses, we know they leave a  permanent mark; it is essential that we create safe spaces for these conversations so others never know this feeling.

Please contact your loved ones and remind them that they are loved, then reach out to Chancellor Wolf Yeigh at The purpose of administration is to support students and encourage a healthy campus environment; this must begin with an emphasis on student mental health.

For mental health resources for students altogether and the AAPI community, please view this list of resources: AAPI and Mental Health Resources – Google Docs.

We, the undersigned members of the UWB community, urge the UWB administration to provide more funding for the Counseling Center and expand accessible mental health resources for our community in the wake of these tragedies.

If you are interested in signing please visit the Google Doc here

Sam Locke
Mumina Ali
Ruthann Fernandes
Nina Jouval
Bryanna Bui
Bee Elliott
Lauren Allen
Fatima Jamal
Amina Mukadam
Madison Hendrix Ruter
Jaresiah Williams
Amelia T. Nguyen
Jessica Edith Ambriz-Madrigal
Jennifer Wallace
Elisa Sagisi
Lauren F. Lichty (Faculty at UWB)
Jacky Guzman
Katharina Brinschwitz
Reese Sherman
Keita Shimizu
Spencer Cheng
Alina Zasimczuk
Jaya Ravi
Emely Zapata
Maritza Lauriano Ortega
Djelli Berisha
Jimwell Dumaguing
Lily Hozayin
Kate Schwarz
Bardia Ghazi
Ben Gardner (Faculty at UWB)
Amelia Alam
Janelle M. Silva (Faculty at UWB)
Ron Krabill (Faculty at UWB)
Karam Dana (Faculty at UWB)
David Goldstein (Faculty at UWB)
Bryan White (Faculty at UWB)
Julie Shayne (Faculty at UWB)

Charles Stobbs III
Lisa Olason (Staff at UWB)
Thomas Humphries (Faculty at UWB)
Monique Taylor (Staff at UWB)
Elizabeth Tyson (Faculty at UWB)
Martha Groom (Faculty at UWB)
Melanie Malone (Faculty at UWB)
Kris Kellejian (Faculty at UWB)
Teddy Johnson (Faculty at UWB)
Warren Gold (Faculty at UWB)
Emily Gismervig (Faculty at UWB)
Cynthia Chang (Faculty at UWB)
Laura J. Harkewicz(Faculty at UWB)
Laurie Anderson(Faculty at UWB)
Robin Angotti (Faculty at UWB)
Chelsea Nesvig (Librarian at UWB)
Suzan Parker, (Librarian at UWB)
Michele B. Price (Faculty at UWB)
Kristina Hillesland (Faculty at UWB)
Denise Hattwig (UWB Library)
Annika G. Rundberg Bunney
Jesse Zaneveld (Faculty at UWB)
Sanika Nalgirkar
Deirdre Vinyard (Faculty at UWB)
Desiree Ortac
Rae Stoner
Christy Cherrier (Staff at UWB)
Sarah Leadley (Librarian at UWB)
Tami Garrard (UWB/CC Campus Library)
Hannah Mendro (UWB/CC Campus Library)
Katrina Harack (Faculty at UWB)
Sam Shupe (Staff at UWB)
Je Salvador (Staff at UWB/CC Campus Library)
Cinnamon Hillyard (Faculty at UWB)
Nuranissa Abdul Wahid
Grace Ryan (Staff at UWB)
Phoenix R. Horn

Vanny Nguyen
Seana Davidson
Pietro Paparella (Faculty at UWB)
Nicole Hooer (Faculty at UWB)
Rafael M. L. Silva (Staff at UWB)
Deborah A. Hathaway (Faculty at UWB)
Peter Brooks (Faculty at UWB)
Annuska Zolyomi (Faculty at UWB)
Fnu Michelin
Savanna C. Wheeler
Heather Cyre (Librarian, UWB/CC Campus Library)
Yolanda Padilla (Faculty at UWB)
Alice Pedersen (Faculty at UWB)
Theao Quinn Klinicke
Jessica Belmont
Kristen Attebery (Staff at UWB)
Wadiya Udell (Faculty at UWB)
Eva Navarijo (Staff at UWB)
Neil Simpkins (Faculty at UWB)
Victoria Breckwich Vasquez (Faculty at UWB)
Nicole LaBelle (Student at UWB)
Marc Servetnick (Faculty at UWB)
Rebecca M price (Faculty at UWB)
Leslie Hurst (Librarian, UWB/CC Campus Library)
Eric Stewart (Faculty at UWB)

Signatures as of April 5, 2021.

Students, staff, and all members of the University of Washington Bothell Community have the right to free and uncensored speech under the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255, or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741). 

UWB Counseling Center: 

UWB Counseling Center crisis line (425) 352 3183 9:00 am to 12:00 pm (Noon) or 1:00 pm to 4:00pm, Monday through Friday.

UWB Counseling Center email

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