Content warning: This post is in response to the suicide prevention installation on Peirce Lawn today, Sept. 25 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Scroll to the last paragraph for information on alternative routes to avoid Peirce Lawn and mental health resources available on campus.
Hey Kenyon Community,
If you’ll allow for a small break from our usual goofs and gags, some of the editors here at the Thrill wanted to talk to you for a quick moment about the installation on Peirce Lawn.
Although a notice of the installation was sent out to the Kenyon community via email, the subject line and content of the email were vague, and we feel that they did not accurately convey the sensitive nature of this event. As a result, many Kenyon students were surprised to come across a large-scale display of upsetting imagery and themes on their way to Peirce at some point today. It is inconsiderate to have an event of this nature in a hard-to-avoid public space, but it is particularly inappropriate to do so without adequate warning to those forced to interact with it. In the future, we would ask that the Counseling Center take more caution in consulting and warning students prior to such a public and possibly overwhelming display.
For these reasons, we would encourage Kenyon students who would like to avoid Peirce Lawn today to use the North side door of Peirce or to use the patio entrance for the Alumni Dining Room. Please know that counselors will be available on-site from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. during the event. Please take care of yourself today.
Students can also be connected with ProtoCall counselors by contacting Campus Safety at 740-427-5555.
The Editors of the Kenyon Thrill
The Thrill is currently accepting guest posts to be included in a forthcoming compilation post of community responses to this event. Please send contributions to email@example.com and specify if you would like to be kept anonymous.
Yes, because of course it’s necessary in the process of gaining an education to avoid, at all costs, anything that might confront you with the unpleasantries of the real world, and wrestling with ideas.
Once upon a time, that was NOT what Kenyon was about. May it survive this era.
Abigail, there was a suicide on campus four months ago. We are all aware of the problem and we all felt how “unpleasant” her loss was – those of us who knew her personally didn’t expect to have all of the memories flood back at eight in the morning (they set up early) as we went in for breakfast. I agree that there should be more education surrounding mental health, but filling a central location on campus with suicide notes was not the way to do it. I hope with this context it becomes a bit more clear why so many of us were overwhelmed today.
The girl who committed suicide on campus four months ago, [redacted], was a dear friend of mine. It is indicative of your personal capacity for empathy that, instead of perhaps understanding why those who were deeply effected by her passing, or have been touched by suicide at all, might not want to walk past a massive exhibit, organized by an outside group, of scattered backpacks meant to represent those who have died by their own hand. I assume you, like many adults, dismiss us as touchy and sheltered. Ironically, to me, this post of yours indicates that you yourself are the one who is sheltered. Between 1999 and 2014, suicide rates have risen by 24% in the US and, in 2015 vs. 2011, 50% more teens demonstrated clinically diagnosable depression. “Once upon a time” I’m sure Kenyon did not have so many students intimately acquainted with suicide and suicidal ideation. We are not in any way asking the administration to “shield us” as you suggest. That is not possible. We are asking for actual positive change within the mental health resources on campus that this massive pointless exhibit seems almost to morbidly mock. Research has shown that suicide “visibility” and “awareness” has only negatively impacted its own cause, sometimes serving as negative inspiration to those it reaches. I don’t think you made your comment from an informed position, but your mindset is the type of “deal with it” BS that keeps the world from becoming kinder.
As a close, close friends of the girl who committed suicide last year, [redacted], I think I’m pretty well acquainted with the “unpleasantries of the real world.” So instead, please wrestle with this idea for me. Suicide awareness, on this campus, is effectively an endeavor with zero gain. We are all AWARE of it. We are all reeling from the loss of a member of this community. I was not upset by this demonstration because it reminded me of something unpleasant. I’m reminded of the death of my friend every day of my life. Instead, I was upset because money, time, and resources, all spent by people who seem to really care about the issue, were poured into what is essentially a glorified hashtag, a concerned facebook update, a demonstration of nothing. If any kinds of changes or adjustments to the way mental health is treated on this campus were being demonstrated publicly, there wouldn’t be such an outcry. Instead, we were given a useless demonstration that does nothing except panic, upset, or sadden kids deeply affected by the “unpleasantries” that you’re so fixated upon. It seems like you are some kind of alumni or graduate of Kenyon. Or you could be some unkind and unempathetic woman with too much time on your hands. Either way, I invite you to get your mean-spirited “kids are too sensitive these days” attitude off of this forum.
I’m happy to see in the comments here that current Kenyon students are not as single mindedly apathetic as you or your imagined generation of graduates. Kenyon College spent $7500 to put a wall of unavoidable suicide notes around the dining hall and the library units (the only ones we’ve got). That’s absurd. I hope that something as pointlessly stupid and insensitive as this will be relegated to “once upon a time” for this school and its administrators, but, sadly, this type of gross incompetence has been sustained over the course of my last 3 years here with no sign of healthy direction forward. I hope that in the future Kenyon’s administrators will not sacrifice the mental welfare of their students, their budget, and their self-respect to cover themselves (and their insurance costs?) after a community tragedy. I hope that in the future Kenyon is “about” staffing the Health and Counseling Center. I hope that in the future Kenyon is “about” providing sufficient psychiatric care. I hope that in the future Kenyon is “about” respecting its student population. Maybe its time for a change of staff.