By: Syeda Mashfe
This past Sunday, a student was found dead on the first floor of the Bahen Center at the University of Toronto St. George campus. After a police investigation, it was revealed that the student had committed suicide. The University’s response to the suicide was rather curt. Students were appalled by the University’s response to the suicide, claiming that the University simply treats its students as an “after thought”. “A student is just a number” was one of many slogans used by students who were protesting against the lack of mental health services.
The University has become more of a business rather than an educational institution where students can pursue their degree and gain meaningful employment.
This is not the first suicide the University has seen but rather the third within the last year. If this is the third suicide that the University has seen, something is not right!! The University is NOT taking the mental well-being of students seriously. We need to question the university’s sanity!
I am taking a course called Sociology of Food and Eating. In one of the units, we were taught that food banks were created for emergency situations such as war. However, there is no war happening in Canada right now, yet more and more food banks are emerging and more and more people are turning to food banks. According to Food Banks Canada, research shows that 850 000 people turned to food banks in 2017. In 2018, 1 000 000 people turned to food banks. In one year alone, the number of food bank users increased by 150 000. That is a huge jump!
With the exponential rise of rent, bills, and unemployment, residents are forced to prioritize between basic needs of shelter and food. Food banks are an example of a band-aid (temporary) solution. If there is a rise in the number of food banks to feed a hungry population, that means more and more people are being forced to give up their other basic needs.
Is it not obvious that there is something wrong with the system?
If the system is not improved to solve the underlying problems, more and more people will resort to food banks.
Likewise, if the system is not improved and provide more mental health resources, more people will eventually commit suicide or suffer in silence.
There is a huge stigma around mental health. People who suffer from mental health issues are usually afraid that their friends and colleagues might treat them differently. As a result, people prefer to keep these issues to themselves. This feeling of anguish can be suffocating for a person and can come to a point that the person would rather commit suicide than share his or her feelings.
There is also a stigma towards mental health issues because it is not a “visible” illness. Then again, not all wounds are visible. On the contrary, mental health issues are getting some recognition in 2019. Even though there are resources that students can access, most students are unable to access these resources due to lack of numbers and the long waiting lines. This is where the University is lacking to ensure the safety of its students. Students should not have to wait for months to schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist. Students should be able to access resources and get the help they deserve whenever they need. After all, we are paying tuition for a variety of resources along with our courses. So, when we don’t get access to these resources, it’s disappointing and frustrating!!
In high school, students feel a lot of pressure to get accepted to the “best” universities. Some parents might consider the “best” university to be the university that is ranked the highest. Unbeknownst to parents, the high rank comes with a price which can sometimes be the student’s mental health. When students get into the “best” university, surviving becomes the “real” challenge. In addition to the lack of support from family, students are not able to seek help from school. At that point, for some, suicide becomes the only solution.
An important message people should get from this blog is that people should care about their mental health because they matter. Their lives matter.