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UNC Chapel Hill officials cancel classes Tuesday following student deaths

The Old Well on the UNC- Chapel Hill campus.
Brian Batista
File photo of the Old Well and flowers on the UNC Chapel Hill campus.

If you or someone you know is in crisis call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

Updated at 5:22 p.m.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has canceled classes on Tuesday in observance of a campus-wide Wellness Day after a series of suicides on campus in the last month.

UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz addressed the university's faculty executive committee Monday following the deaths and explained that administrators decided to cancel classes to give students a break to grieve.

Within an hour of a suicide Saturday at a residence hall, counselors were dispatched to support students and residence assistants at the dorm, Guskiewicz said. The Daily Tar Heel reports police also responded to an attempted suicide on campus Sunday morning.

According to the UNC Police crime log, there have been three suicides and one suspected suicide on campus since the beginning of September.

UNC Chapel Hill Student Body President Lamar Richards called for UNC Chapel Hill to halt classes Monday as well. In the Monday meeting, Guskiewicz responded to this request stating university officials needed time to plan the Wellness Day for students. The school already had a planned break scheduled for Tuesday afternoon to mark University Day.

In a statement Sunday, Guskiewicz addressed the issue of mental health at the university.

"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," UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said in a statement Sunday. "As chancellor, a professor and a parent, my heart breaks for all those whose suffering goes unnoticed."

In an email to the campus community, Guskiewicz outlined a schedule of events and resources students and staff can access throughout the week. They include group therapy sessions, individual counseling, wellness coaching, and tips on self-mental health screening. Students will also be able to access counseling services virtually.

Guskiewicz said university officials will also convene a mental health summit later this month to bring together faculty, staff, and student leaders.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a hotline for individuals in crisis or for those looking to help someone else. To speak with a certified listener, call 1-800-273-8255.

Crisis Text Line is a texting service for emotional crisis support. To speak with a trained listener, text HELLO to 741741. It is free, available 24/7, and confidential.

WUNC's Elizabeth Baier contributed to this report.

Liz Schlemmer is WUNC's Education Reporter, covering preschool through higher education. Email:
Cole del Charco is an audio producer and writer based in Durham. He's made stories for public radio's All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Marketplace. Before joining Due South, he spent time as a freelance journalist, an education and daily news reporter for WUNC, and a podcast producer for WFAE in Charlotte.
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