Rowan University holds meeting to address campus mental health following rash of suicides

Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Rowan University meets with students to talk about recent suicides
Rowan University meets with students as reported by Dann Cuellar during Action News at 11 on December 9, 2019.

GLASSBORO, New Jersey (WPVI) -- The Student Government Association at Rowan University held its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday night, but it was anything but a routine gathering. Hundreds of students showed up to talk about one thing, suicide.

Students, faculty and administrators are trying to come to grips with the alarming trend of suicides that has plagued the nation and now Rowan.

"I have struggled with suicide for as long as I can remember, as early as four years old," said Catherine DeMartino, an alum and current employee of Rowan.

Many shared their personal accounts on suicide. One student says her sister went to the Rowan Wellness Center to get help but was turned away.

Another student feels she was not properly treated.

Rowan University students attend vigil following recent suicides on campus. Chad Pradelli reports on Action News at 10 on Dec. 6, 2019.

"I don't wanna speak for all of their resources here at Rowan but in my personal experience, I felt this situation was handled completely wrong," said sophomore, Carly Weinstein.

Rowan does pride itself on trying to provide sufficient resources. It currently has 15 mental health counselors per 15,000 students.

"We're in the process of hiring more so it's going to get even stronger but it has to be more than just counseling, we really have to partner as we have, and we continue to do with our health care providers," said Jim Newell of Rowan University.

But some students weren't impressed that Rowan is doing enough.

"That means you can help four percent of the Rowan students, that's not including graduate students, that's unacceptable," said one student.

The SGA President Arielle Gedeon tried to assure students that this is only a start.

"The forum is only step one. I just want you to know that this is only the beginning to making sure that we're helping our Rowan community," said Arielle Gideon.

There was a bit of good news tonight. University officials said that a student who fell from the top of a parking garage last week, in what is believed to be a suicide attempt, is doing well and is expected to survive.

Catherine DeMartinio wanted to encourage others struggling with suicidal thoughts.

"The darkness never goes away, but with time and support and outlets to express yourself, you can see that you are in control, not the darkness," she said.

The University expects to have other forums like this in the future and students were also being encouraged that if they or someone they know is having suicidal thoughts to please call the New Jersey Hope Hotline at 855-654-6735.

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