If you go
What: Spirit Day, CU students are encouraged to wear purple shirts in honor of seven gay students nationwide who committed suicide in recent months.
When: Oct. 20
Where: All over the world, including the CU campus
For more info: Search Spirit Day on Facebook.
If you need help
Any CU student who needs help, or just someone to talk to, can call the Counseling and Psychological Services Center at 303-492-6766, which staffs a 24-hour hotline.
University of Colorado officials are concerned that recent suicides committed by Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender youth could negatively impact students who may already be depressed or suicidal.
Glenda Russell, psychologist at CU’s Counseling and Psychological Services Center said GLBT students, up to age 21, are slightly more susceptible to suicide than heterosexual students. And as seven bullying-related suicides since July continue to gain national attention, CU’s GLBT community could be at risk, she said.
“Even those students who are not experiencing harassment have to deal with fact that they might have to face it eventually,” Russell said. “The challenge for GLBT students is not only what actually happens to them, but things that could happen.”
Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University freshman, jumped off a bridge last month after two classmates recorded him having sex with a man in his dorm room and broadcast it over the Internet.
Most recently, Raymond Chase, 19, a gay sophomore at Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island hanged himself in his dorm room Wednesday. And five middle and high school students across the country are believed to have committed suicide after being harassed over the past few months.
Russell said GLBT suicides happen every year, and are every bit as tragic as the recent spate of deaths, but it’s unusual that they happened so close together.
CU officials met Monday morning to discuss how to communicate with students about the national incidents, and suicide prevention, campus spokesman Bronson Hilliard said.
“We always send something out about suicides around this time of year,” Hilliard said. “We’ll incorporate some of the recent incidents along with the information this year.”
Hilliard said the e-mails will go out to students later this week.
The GLBT Resource Center e-mailed its contact list Friday with resources for suicidal or victimized students.
Stephanie Wilenchek, director of CU’s GLBT Resource Center, said its members are keeping an “extra eye on students” now, but staffers are always working to connect GLBT students across campus.
“We are taking notice because we know that these types of incidents can have varying impacts on students,” Wilenchek said. “But our goal is always to reach out to students and make sure they’re feeling connected socially and any other way we can.”
From victim assistance to psychological services to social groups, CU offers an array of tools for students to find help and support for almost any struggles. But it’s still not enough, Wilenchek said.
“CU may have more resources than some other schools or communities, but there are still a lot of challenges,” she said.
Daniel Ramos, who graduated from CU in May, said he had a mostly positive experience on campus, but the university needs to do more to support the needs of its GLBT community.
“I think developing the university at all levels would make campus a safer place for GLBT students, or women or people of color or any minority,” said Ramos, 23. “Professors, staffers and students on campus should be ready to handle these kinds of issues in an appropriate way.”
Joanne Arnold, a member of CU’s GLBT chapter of the Alumni Association, said she’s disheartened by the recent incidents across the country, but there are lessons to be learned.
“Hopefully the straight community will be affected as much as the gay community by what’s happened,” Arnold said. “There’s much to learn from this, especially for heterosexuals.”