RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Counseling services are available Friday for NC State students, faculty and staff a day after two students died by suicide, raising the campus death toll this year to 14.
This is the first week of finals at NC State University, but instead of studying many students are trying to cope with the loss of two of their peers.
Wednesday night a student was found dead of apparent suicides near Lake Raleigh on the university's Centennial Campus. Then by Thursday afternoon, another student had died from apparent suicide at Sullivan Hall.
The university announced it would open its counseling center for drop in visit for anyone in need from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. at Caldwell Hall. More drop in appointments will be available at Talley 4280 from 1-4 p.m., and then again on May 1 from 1-4 p.m. at Talley 3210.
NC State leaders are reminding students of the resources available in the wake of several student deaths on campus this year.
Justine Hollingshead, assistant vice chancellor in the division of academic and student affairs, said they're meeting students where they are.
Whether that means rescheduling exams, or providing drop-in spaces where students can talk to counselors.
"I spent pretty much the last 24 hours here on campus, and I'm not the only one, you know, whether it's a police officer, a counselor, an academic adviser, the chancellor, you know, staff members that work here in the student union, we're all looking at ways taking care of each other, taking care of our students, reaching out to say what's going on and how can we help?"
NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson released a statement Thursday afternoon on the university's website where he detailed other resources available to the NC State community.
"I am regretfully writing to you today with very sad news. Our community experienced two tragic student deaths in the last 24 hours. This is heartbreaking, and I know there's little I can say to console the deep hurt or heal the immense grief felt by the family and friends of these young people and others we've lost this year. What I can say is that I, along with so many caring members of our community, share in this grief," he said. "Please take extra care of yourselves, keep an eye out for each other and be on the lookout for those around you who might need help. Don't be afraid to intervene if you think a friend is struggling, and please don't feel ashamed if you're struggling."
In total, 14 NC State students have died this year, and seven of those deaths have come by suicide.
Students at the university are busy preparing for finals, say it's been a tough year for the Wolf Pack Community.
"It's stressful. There's a lot going on right now," said Abby Heil.
Some of the students who died were Heil's classmates in the Engineering Department.
"It's just hard and it's even harder to feel like, you know, as a peer they were in my classes, and they couldn't reach out and ask for help," she said.
Peterson has also felt the pressures of her first year of college but continues to take advantage of the resources that the university has offered.
"It's a hard transition," she said. "You don't really understand it until you go through it, but I think it just takes time. Like honestly, it's just taken time to get adjusted. And I do think there are so many good resources here for tutoring and counselors."
Now, students are processing how current resources can best be implemented moving forward. One student who spoke with ABC11 suggested more communication between administrators and professors in the classroom.
"I just think it's really easy to get lost in such a huge school, that maybe if we took it to the classroom and took 10 minutes out of one class, and said like, 'Hey, if you need anything, let me know,' it would be a huge help," said freshman Spencer Worth.
UNC School of Medicine psychiatrist Michael Kane says, the more you can tailor the existing mental health infrastructure for individual students, the better.
"It seems like some of it has to do with consistent effort to engage the student body in ways to help them feel connected, because it's through that connection that we'll notice that people are struggling," Dr. Kane said.
In the wake of several student deaths on campus this year, a student task force presented a new report back in February that outlined how tough college has been this year.
SEE ALSO | NC State students, staff to focus on mental health after student's death
The report found 34% of students surveyed were dealing with some form of depression, and 12% percent had suicidal thoughts. The numbers are from surveys taken before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the students who presented the report explained that they are still a snapshot of the mental health concerns facing students right now.
NC State has brought on more help in the counseling center and there are now more than 45 clinical positions.
Eleanor Lott, an NCSU sophomore who serves on the student task force, said it's important for students to become involved in mental health improvement efforts. She specifically highlighted the availability of AcademicLiveCare, which offers up to 12 free telehealth counseling services for students, as one option students can and should take advantage of.
SEE ALSO | State agencies work to expand mental health resources for students as disturbing trends rise
If you or somebody you know is struggling with thoughts of mental anguish or suicide, you can call or text 9-8-8, which is the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, to be connected to help immediately. To learn more about its resources, click here.
SEE ALSO | 21-year-old NCSU student found dead at private residence in February