University of Houston to decide what's next after 3 student deaths by suicide at Agnes Arnold Hall
HOUSTON - A heartbreaking tragedy at the University of Houston after two student suicides in just about a month. Now students and staff alike are searching for answers.
PREVIOUS: Death on University of Houston campus prompts class cancellations
Classes and all activities at Agnes Arnold Hall have been stopped temporarily because this is actually the third student since 2017 to die there by suicide. UH Adjunct Health and Human Performance Professor Dr. Caryn Honig professor we spoke with knows the pain of losing loved ones to suicide.
"I knew something was wrong, and I went over there and found my father who had ended his life, and in that second the trajectory of my life changed," Dr. Honig said.
Not only did Dr. Honig lose her dad to suicide last March but also her grandad in the 1980s. Both were affectionately known as Poppy. So she’s hosting Poppy’s Run for Life suicide prevention and awareness run Sunday, March 26, 2023, to let those who are suffering know help is available.
"And it’s OK to get help," explains Dr. Honig. "We have to help people end their pain and their suffering, not their lives. Life is complicated. Life is hard, and there are ups and downs, and all over the place with life. It’s a journey and the downs are hard, but help is available."
SUGGESTED: Houston advocate raises awareness for loss survivors, those in crisis
At UH’s Agnes Arnold Hall, a total of three students have died by suicide, one on Monday, another last month, and a third in 2017.
UH Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) Director Dr. Norma Ngo says students reporting suicidal thoughts recently increased by 30 to 40%.
"Students are reporting difficulty adjusting after the pandemic," she explains. "The social isolation, lack of connection, and just overall stress in the world."
She says because campus counseling is typically short-term, they refer those students needing more care to the appropriate mental health experts.
"A lot of the desire we’re hearing from our students is to be able to see us more often, for a long duration, and sometimes some of the intense situations we are not equipped to assist them, but that’s not unusual for a campus counseling center," Dr. Ngo adds.
UH President Renu Khator tweeted she’s "making this a priority," has "set up a special task force to deal with mental health" and will "sit down with students, faculty, and staff in the coming weeks to seriously consider our options in regard to the building (Agnes Arnold Hall)."
"It’s pretty wearing, especially since it happened twice," says UH student Chanel Lofton. "I’m pretty concerned about what the school's going to do to prevent them from happening again."
"I don’t want this to happen to anybody else because you know suicide victims they’re not the only victims it’s everybody around them," adds another UH student, Elijah Mitchell.
MORE STORIES RELATED TO MENTAL HEALTH
Dr. Honig says she wants those in crisis to know to turn to someone to talk to.
She recalls after losing her dad asking a rabbi, "Will I ever feel joy again because I am so tremendously sad he said, 'you know Caryn maybe you should look for meaning and look for purpose, and then joy will follow.'"
Poppy’s Run for Life has about 300 runners signed up so far. It kicks off Sunday, March 26, 2023, at 7:30 a.m. at Hennessy Park at 1900 Lyons Avenue.
If you need help please reach out to the National Suicide Hotline by dialing 988. You can also click this link.