After first hearing of the recent tragedies at Cornell University, it has become clear to me that our society still regards mental health and suicide as taboo topics. The media’s lopsided coverage of Cornell’s recent suicides proves just that. With headlines like “Do Ithaca’s Gorges Invite Jumpers?” and “Could Cornell’s legendary beauty be killing its students?,” it appears as though the media is crediting the gorges with the responsibility of the students’ deaths. Why is there a conspiracy to blame the gorges? Why isn’t there an ongoing conversation in the media about the importance of mental health and personal well-being?
Frank Warren, founder of Post Secret, noted on his blog Sunday night that there are significantly more hits on Yahoo! News for Cornell’s success in the NCAA Tournament than the university’s recent suicides. Suicide is not an issue that can be brushed aside or saved for a rainy day. Will barriers on Cornell’s bridges keep students from killing themselves?
While it may for the time being, the answer is not as simple as a chain-link fence. I applaud Cornell’s recent efforts to reach out to their students in this time of tragedy and encourage them to promote the same amount of mental health awareness during the regular academic school year.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people ages 15-24, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Suicide is completely preventable. Mental illness is treatable. Let’s change the conversation about mental health and suicide. It can start with you.
Meg Rindfleisch ’12