Rowan University students hold vigil following recent suicides on campus

GLASSBORO, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Approximately 100 students gathered on the Rowan University campus on Friday night to remember three students who died by suicide this semester.

Emily Felderstein's roommate was one of the students.

"He did reach out to the wellness center. He did get help, but it wasn't the outcome we wanted," she said.

The students not only remembered their classmates, but some shared their darkest moments when thoughts of suicide consumed their minds.

"I've been there and by there I mean on the top of the parking garage," one student told the crowd.

The parking garage is where one student took his own life and another fell on Thursday. That student survived.

Officials with the university won't say if it was a suicide attempt, citing confidentiality. But there is a problem that needs to be addressed.

"There is a national crisis going on. We see this. We see this in middle schools, the high school and all the way through college," said Rowan spokesman Joe Cardona.

Rowan officials are now feeling the heat. Students are calling for better services for mental health.

"There are kids show struggling with finals, with school, financial issues and they aren't getting the help they need," said student Emily Winkowski.

"It's not about scrutinizing them and bringing them down. It's about asking them to say, 'hey, there's something going on. We need to step up,'" said student Noah Austin.

Cardona acknowledges a backlog in available counselors in years past, but he says the school has restructured its counselors. Students in crisis are no longer waiting and the campus currently has 15 counselors for its roughly 15,000 students. Three more are being hired next semester, he said.

"The standard for counselors versus students is one (counselor) per 1,000-1,500 students, so we are at the high end of that standard," Cardona said.

Both students and administrators agree if a student is struggling or having suicidal thoughts they need to speak up to a counselor, teacher, or a friend.

The 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.
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