As students grieve suicide deaths, Rowan University adjusts approach to mental health

Pat Toddy
December 10, 2019 - 8:45 am
Rowan University held a forum on mental health and suicide after several students ended their lives on the campus this year.

Carly Q. Romalino/Cherry Hill Courier-Post via Imagn Content Services, LLC

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Rowan University hosted a discussion about approaches to mental health Monday night for students and staff. the Galssboro campus is united in grief, and trying to cope with the loss of three classmates to suicide this semester. Students are looking for answers and support, and university officials are planning changes for next semester.

"Kinda disturbing knowing that there are students walking around dealing with these mental health issues, and they're not getting the help that they need," said senior Julia Taormina, one of more than 19,000 Rowan students.

She says she and other students want the university to talk more openly about suicide. And students say the Rowan University Wellness Center often has discouraging wait times.

"We need answers and we need support, and I feel that we're not receiving that," Taormina said.

She wants the university to create progams to help kids cramming for exams and dealing with other stressors.

"Family life, the holidays, it's a very stressful time of year," she said. "And I think, if Rowan had a little bit of extra support at this time, it could really make a difference."

She suggested that campus police could double as a suicide-prevention foot patrol of sorts.

"In certain areas of Glassboro and on campus, just to make sure that if anyone looks like they're in distress or they need to be taken to a health service that they will get that," she said.

University President Ali Houshmand said Rowan is responding to a "national crisis." He said the university will add three more counselors to the center's 15 next semester.

In the meantime, university officials say a personalized plan system has stopped the problem with wait times. They want students to know that counselors are available 24-7.