College looks to prevent tragedies

Posted by Maxx Salat

On Sept. 22 Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old freshman at Rutgers College, committed suicide after his roommate used his camera to record an intimate encounter hosted in Clementi's room and streamed it online to a public audience.

This incident is not the first of its kind.

Clementi's suicide was one of seven in the LGBT community in the past month that gained media attention.

There are 1,100 suicides on college campuses each year.

Jennifer Burden, director of Health Services, sent out an email to students expressing her sorrow and disappointment in regard to Clementi's death and the events leading up to it.

"My hope would be that we wouldn't have that sort of thing [Clementi's suicide] happen here. I would hope that our students would know better and basically that if someone were to transmit something like that over the Internet, hopefully our students would not give that an audience," Burden said.

Burden wants to make students aware that regardless of the circumstance, there is always an alternative to suicide.

The Counseling Department offers four full-time counselors and one part-time psychiatrist available for consultation by appointment, or without one in the case of an emergency.

Students can also go to the Counseling Department to learn how to counsel a peer on their own.

Julia Routbort, director of the Counseling Center, described her feelings on the incident in four words: "Outraged. Sad. Horrified. Angry."

The college wants students to understand that depression amongst teenagers is a real issue and that campus recourses will do everything in their power to diagnose and treat it.

For the past year, Health Services has offered screenings for depression as part of the regular paperwork for any injury or illness. If a student scores past a certain threshold, Health Services will offer to take that student to counseling.

There is someone from Counseling and Health Services on call at all times. "If a student is in crisis, feeling unsafe or feeling that he or she really can't get through the day, we can see students that day," Routbort said.

Students can see Counseling Services for up to eight private therapy sessions a year. Past that, students will be referred to an off-campus professional.

In additional to individual counseling, Counseling Services also offers group therapy and classes with the goal of helping students deal with the stress of their academic and social lives.

Counseling services' cost is included in tuition and confidentiality is always maintained; students' identities will never be revealed without their consent.

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