"We are in the middle of a mental health crisis, both on our campus and across our nation, and we are aware that college-aged students carry an increased risk of suicide," Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz said Sunday. "This crisis has directly impacted members of our community - especially with the passing of two students on campus in the past month.
Stress on campus and at large have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the move to cancel classes comes after two disturbing incidents on campus during the weekend.
Today, on World Mental Health Day, we must reflect on the seriousness of mental health illness and the challenges we face.#UNC students will take a Wellness Day on Tuesday, Oct. 12, and there are resources available for all who need support in this time: https://t.co/O6KN1bPYWQ— Kevin Guskiewicz (@KevinGuskiewicz) October 10, 2021
On Friday morning, campus police reported a suicide at Hinton James Residence Hall. Police records show an attempted suicide took place early Sunday morning at Granville Towers South.
The chancellor's announcement came after leaders of the UNC Undergraduate Student Government and the Graduate and Professional Student Government called for a pause on instruction.
In a letter to the chancellor, the groups said students needed the pause "to ensure that their mental health needs are being considered and met."
The group asked for classes to be canceled both Monday and Tuesday.
"At Carolina, we strive to put our students first in everything we do. We are living in a world that is constantly shifting and changing. We are facing major challenges and the ongoing toll this takes on our health cannot be underestimated," Guskiewicz said in his email. "This cannot be solved by one person, or on one day, alone."
The Chancellor also announced that additional mental health steps will be forthcoming, including a special support network starting Tuesday and throughout the week that will draw on "the robust expertise from across our campus."
The support network will be available for students, faculty and staff in different areas of campus for those who need connection to resources and a place to process and talk about their experiences.
A mental health summit is planned for later this month, he said.
Finally, Guskiewicz said there is a new resource, the Heels Care Network, that is, "a campus-wide campaign to promote and support mental health awareness, which requires all of us to play an important role."
The Daily Tar Heel, UNC's student newspaper, said it will also be operating on a reduced schedule this week "to allow our staff time to rest and to prioritize their mental health."
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)