ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) - Saint Louis University students are leaning on the school for mental health resources following two student suicides.
Students say one person took their own life near a dining hall on September 11. Monday, police say a student died by suicide in a residence hall. A student-driven petition is asking the university to go beyond 10 free counseling sessions and hire more staff. The petition has topped more than 7,000 signatures and counting.
"I think it's great that they're making the steps already to provide students with the mental health days, counseling and all that stuff, but my experience yesterday with it is they're referring students to other places because they're understaffed," said Nic Howell, a freshman with the university.
One junior says the COVID-19 pandemic is stressing students out, especially freshmen.
"New place, a new building, new people, freshmen who haven't been in school because of COVID coming to college, thrown into classes, regular life that hasn't happened in year and a half," said junior Shannon Honquest.
"I think we need more than just 10 free sessions and I think we need to hire on more mental health staff so that we're not getting pushed away because they don't have the staffing to handle all of us. And I think every other college should be doing the same, especially right now," said Freshman KaliAnna Myers.
A university spokesperson tells News 4 today, they are taking the students' calls for change seriously.
"They're asking for help, they're hurting and we take that petition and the other outreach that has come to use through social media, through emails, through phone calls extremely seriously," said Jeff Fowler, Vice President for Marketing and Communications at SLU. "And they're telling us that they want action."
Fowler says this week, the university is focused on healing from the recent losses in the student community, but he adds that work is already being done behind the scenes to make sure student's request for more services on campus changes.
"How can we add more counseling services, how can we add more counselors, how can we get appointments much quicker," he said.
Undergraduate classes at Saint Louis University will be canceled Friday, Sept. 24 for a day focused on mental health and connection. Learn more: https://t.co/6ehd1dOSB8— Saint Louis University (@SLU_Official) September 22, 2021
SLU says it is expanding counseling hours and waiving fees for the rest of September. The university is also canceling classes Friday, asking students to focus on mental health. If you someone you know needs help, click here.
All members of the Saint Louis University community are invited to a prayer service on Sept. 22 at 3 p.m. in St. Francis Xavier College Church. The prayer service will be livestreamed and can be accessed here: https://t.co/3SJcTVkM6Z pic.twitter.com/X55xGoeejb— Saint Louis University (@SLU_Official) September 21, 2021