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This is the second student death to occur this semester, the sixth in the past year

Content warning: Student death 

A University of Ottawa student was found dead in one of the school’s on-campus residences on Saturday, the school’s administration says. The death is not linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At this difficult time when our hearts are already burdened, I deeply regret that I must share news that is sure to weigh them down further,” wrote U of O president Jacques Frémont in a media statement on Saturday night.

“I know that this news will be deeply upsetting to the U of O community, as it most certainly is to me.”

This is the second student death to occur this semester, and the sixth in the past year.

“The loss of a promising young life is an inexpressible tragedy,” wrote Frémont. “We mourn this student’s death as a caring community, and we mourn as individuals who have each known despair and loss.”

In February, Frémont acknowledged that the school is facing a mental health ‘crisis’. Prior to this announcement, a wave of students and thousands of petition signers demanded better mental health services from the university in December.

In this semester alone, a number of protests and demonstrations calling on the administration to improve mental health services have been organized by students.

A February town hall on mental health saw students, staff and faculty members voice their experiences and concerns with the school’s mental health system. Several students spoke about the lack of intersectional resources and diversity in staff when reaching out for help, while professors echoed students’ recommendations for the school to take a holistic and systematic approach to mental health.

The U of O has struck a mental health task force, which is looking to implement a number of recommendations from a January report on mental health and wellness at the school.

“To you I say: You are not alone. You are among friends and people who care deeply about you. I care about each of you, and so do your fellow students and your professors,” Frémont wrote in his statement.

He urged students to stay in touch with their family and friends, and to reach out for help if they need it.

“If you are struggling or feel you have no one to turn to, please speak to your residence advisor, or visit one of our campus mental health counsellors,” he wrote. “Check in with each other. Be there for each other. We will always need each other, and we must always care for one another.”

A non-comprehensive list of local mental health resources appears below…

On campus…

  • University of Ottawa Health Services (UOHS), 100 Marie-Curie Private
    • Offers counselling, psychiatric services, individual, couple or family therapy, access to psycho-educational groups and referrals to specialists off-campus
  • Student Academic Success Service (SASS), 100 Marie-Curie Private
    • Offers individual counselling, peer-counselling, workshops, online therapy and group counselling using new stepped model; referrals
  • Faculty mentoring centres (locations differ by faculty)
    • Specialized mentoring services catered to the needs of students in each faculty

Off campus…

Warning signs of suicide include:

Talking about wanting to die

Looking for a way to kill oneself

Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose

Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain

Talking about being a burden to others

Increasing use of alcohol or drugs

Acting anxious, agitated, or recklessly

Sleeping too little or too much

Withdrawing or feeling isolated

Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge

Displaying extreme mood swings

The more of these signs a person shows, the greater the risk. If you suspect someone you know may be contemplating suicide, you should talk to them, according to the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.