Three student deaths devastate the Georgia Tech community

Credit: 2017 Getty Images

Credit: 2017 Getty Images

Georgia Tech is reeling from the suicides of two students in the last week and the accidental death of another.

In the wake of this news, I have been hearing from students concerned Tech has not provided sufficient mental health services even after the tragic shooting death of student Scout Schultz on Sept. 16 of last year.

After calling 911 to report a suspicious person on campus possibly armed with a gun and giving what amounted to a self- description, Schultz had a confrontation with campus police in which the well-liked student leader disregarded commands to drop what officers thought to be a weapon. (The weapon turned out to be multipurpose tool.)

In a video capturing the incident, Schultz can be heard responding, "Shoot me!" Schultz ignored officers' commands to stand in place, moving slowly toward the four officers who responded to the call. And that was when an officer fired with a deadly outcome.

In guest blog here a few days after the shooting, Tech student Duo-Wei Yang wrote:

We understand the school is not completely responsible for our lives. However, there is a disheartening lack of decisive action from the administration.

Regardless of your opinions on Saturday night, if there was more effort from Georgia Tech to reach out to students effectively, we might not have to wonder about "what-ifs" as much as we do now.

Now, with two suicides in eight days, Tech students remain concerned about the availability and depth of mental health services. As a second-year Tech student wrote today to me:

As I'm sure you can imagine, myself, the campus, and particularly these students' friends and family are left reeling in the wake of these two suicides. But what many of us find even more disturbing is the lack of action on the part of the Georgia Tech administration. Even after public outcry from the student body, the school has consistently failed to fulfill their promises to allocate more resources to the overtaxed and underfunded counseling center. While we continue to receive emails about de-stressing through school programming, most of us have found these emails increasingly empty and insincere as students continue to struggle with severe mental health issues.

A rise in suicides, along with increased drug deaths, partly explains why life expectancy in the United States fell for the third straight year.
"Life expectancy gives us a snapshot of the Nation's overall health," said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield in a statement, "and these sobering statistics are a wakeup call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable."

Georgia Tech sent out messages to students, including a video message, after the suicides of a doctoral student this week and an undergraduate math and material sciences and engineering major a week ago in a campus building. A third student, an electrical and computer engineering student, died as a result of an accident over the break while at home with his family, according to Tech.

Here is part of one message from Tech’s president:

Here is the video message to Tech students, who are in the midst of finals, from President G.P. “Bud”Peterson and others in the Tech community about reaching out for help: