Santa Clara University students demand better mental health resources in wake of recent deaths

It’s a disturbing trend at a South Bay university. In a university district, three students died, two of them by suicide.

Santa Clara University students are demanding better mental health resources and college housing in the wake of the deaths.

At Santa Clara University, outside Swig Residence, flowers and balloons are displayed in honor of a freshman computer science student who died Sunday night.

The 19-year-old had jumped off a building on campus and many students saw him. Sunday’s student death follows two others.

On October 26, a 22-year-old Gunn High School graduate in Palo Alto was killed by a Caltrain.

“He had mental health issues for a long time and had been very open about it,” Senior Will Maddrey said.

On November 10, a 20-year-old student athlete died. His dad posted on social media that his son was leaving a frat party in downtown San Jose and accidentally fell about 15 to 20 feet. He died of head trauma.

A group of students said the private Jesuit university is failing when it comes to mental health services.

“School didn’t help, school didn’t help,” said Senior Shenir Dennis.

“Students are upset because we’ve been asking for mental health resources, more mental health resources at SCU since I was a freshman in 2018,” Senior Angel Macias said.

Students said the university’s counseling and psychology services, known as CAPS, are stretched and inadequate. Students wait weeks for an appointment.

“Mental health has become such an urgent issue,” said Senior Angel Macias. “We were isolated from everyone and personally I became more socially anxious coming back from SCU,” Macias said.

A petition, calling for academic clemency and contracted crisis counselors, has garnered more than 10,000 signatures.

In an email to students Tuesday evening, the university said it was changing its academic policy for the remainder of the year for all undergraduate students, regardless of class ranking, changing its option to pass/fail notation.

The school will also have a 24/7 student helpline available during this critical time. This week, there will be on-site support at two residences, including bereavement counsellors.

“We are in a pandemic,” said Junior Mehak Vohra. “It should have been dealt with earlier and maybe we wouldn’t be in this situation.”

The students plan to hold a protest Thursday at 12:15 p.m. outside the Mission Church. They expect hundreds of people to attend.

Mental Health Resources for South Bay and Peninsula

Suicide and Crisis Line 24 hours a day (Santa Clara County) 650-494-8420 or 408-279-3312
Uplift Crisis Team (EMQ) (Santa Clara County) 408-379-9085 or 877-412-7474
Star Vista Crisis Line (San Mateo County): 650-579-0350
NAMI Santa Clara Warm line: 408-435-0400, option 1
NAMI San Mateo Hotline: 650-638-0800
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) US government funded suicide prevention hotline. Provides free 24 hour support.
Rape Hotline (24 hours): 650.493.7273

Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU. Email Azenith at [email protected] and follow her on twitter and instagram @azenithktvu or Facebook or

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