Fears over latest student death at North Carolina State University

Student dies at North Carolina State as campus returns after year that saw 14 deaths – including seven by suicide

  • Body of male student discovered as students returned from Labor Day weekend
  • The college saw student deaths nearly double last year 
  • Seven of last year’s deaths, including three of the suicides, were at the college’s School of Engineering.

A person was found dead outside a North Carolina State residence hall on Monday – as campus returns for the school year following term that saw 14 student deaths. 

Students returning to NC State on Monday saw police tape around Sullivan Residence Hall on the Raleigh campus as officers investigated the death of a male student. 

Last year, NC State saw 14 deaths, including seven by suicide. Two deaths were overdoses, one by car wreck and four were ‘natural causes.’

Students on campus fear this year may be no different, with another death just two weeks after returning to campus.

‘It gave me this dark feeling,’ Sullivan House resident Matthew Davis told ABC 11.

‘That could be somebody I know. It could be anybody.’

The student's body was found outside the university's Sullivan House hall of residence which houses many engineering students

Students returning to college from the Labor Day weekend found police tape outside their hall of residence

Student Matthew Davis told the outlet that the latest death could be any one of his friends

For this academic year, NC State increased its mental health clinicians from 35 to 50 in the face of a furious student backlash as the deaths mounted last year.

It set up a mental health task force that concluded ‘there is not only room for, but also a need for, additional efforts’.

But Vice Chancellor and Dean Doneka Scott insisted that ‘100 or 1,000 counselors’ would not resolve the crisis.

‘Institutions across the country are grappling with this,’ she told ABC in May.

‘This is not an NC State-only issue, it’s an issue in higher education writ large.’

The university averaged eight student deaths a year, including three by suicide, among its 36,000 students before last year’s spike.

Seven of last year’s deaths, including three of the suicides, were at NC’s School of Engineering.

Many of that students are housed in Sullivan Residence Hall are engineering students. 

‘I’m just a freshman, so it just makes me put everything into perspective and think about everything differently and just see everything differently,’ Davis said.

NC State Police Chief Dan House said the student’s cause of death has not been confirmed, while university Chancellor Randy Woodson issued his latest statement of condolence.

‘The loss of any member of our Pack is tragic, and I recognize that this loss is particularly impactful for many of our on-campus residents and housing staff,’ Woodson wrote.

‘There are no words I can share that will heal what many of you are feeling. 

‘Simply, I grieve with you.’

Student April Anderson told ABC students were checking up on each other after a death that had hit them hard

Half of last year's deaths were among people studying at the School of Engineering

The college told students help is available

College Chancellor Randy Woodson has issued a series of condolence messages

Fellow resident April Anderson said: ‘I was just getting back into the rhythm of things, getting ready for school tomorrow. 

‘But then that’s when I heard. That’s when I heard and I was really sad about that.’

‘It made everybody just a lot more sullen, but also it united us because we were all checking up on each other like it’s just really hard on all of us.’

Students told the task force that social media and the difficulties of isolation during the pandemic had left them more vulnerable, along with fear over the state of the planet and difficulty in accessing help.

‘When I have to reach out to my professors and ask for these things because I just want to get any amount of sleep or like I just physically can’t make myself do work because I’m so burnt out,’ one anonymous student said.

‘It’s a bit humiliating, honestly, and it’s scary because they can just say no.’

Nearly one-third of all US high schoolers report suffering from poor mental health. It comes as some of the nation's leaders say the country is undergoing a youth crisis. Females suffered the most, with 40 percent reporting poor mental health that year

More than 6,600 people between the age of 10 and 24 died by suicide in 2020, according to the National Center of Health Statistics, and suicide is second only to accidents as the leading cause of death among college students.

A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in April found that 10.2 percent of US high school students said they had attempted to kill themselves in 2021, up from around eight per cent in 2019.

It also found that 30 percent of high schoolers also said they had poor mental health ‘most of the time’. For girls, the figure was even higher at 40 per cent.

NC says that of its 14 student fatalities last year seven died by suicide, two fatally overdosed, four died from natural causes, and one student was killed in a car accident.

A number of college events were cancelled after the latest death was discovered on Monday, including a mental health workshop.


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