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Cornell University Plagued with Student Suicides


Cornell University is not taking any chances and making sure they take extra measures of posting lookouts on bridges and going door-to-door to check on students after three undergrads suicided after plunging to their deaths in the past month.

These actions by the university officials have come after what one Cornell administrator called an "especially painful week" several suicides. It's not clear if all three were suicides; university spokeswoman Claudia Wheatley said Tuesday that while school officials could not discuss the individual cases, one case was ruled a suicide and the other two were under investigation.

Staff members were dispatched to the six bridges on campus, while others were told to knock on the door of every student living on campus. The outreach effort includes counseling and assuring messages from the university president. "It's a kind of a bewilderment and a determination to make sure we've done everything we can to keep it from happening again," Wheatley said.

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Cornell is surrounded by steep, rocky gorges of at least 100 feet deep in some places and student suicides and very likely contributed to Cornell's reputation as a "suicide school."
Despite a recent spate of suicides which included three confirmed last semester, Cornell officials say the reputation is undeserved.

Timothy Marchell, director of mental health initiatives stated, "It's well known that Cornell has a reputation as a 'suicide school,' which is not consistent with the reality of the statistics."

Students say the gorge deaths are becoming uncomfortably routine. "What's disturbing is to have so many in the last month," said Emily Farina, a 22-year-old senior who was sitting with friends at an off-campus cafe.

"I think it's sad that when you hear about it, people say, 'Oh, another one.' They're desensitized," said 21-year old Echo McCollum, a senior veterinary student.

Meanwhile, Wheatley said Cornell administrators came up with the outreach program after asking themselves a series of questions: Why is this happening? How can we prevent it in the future? What can we do for our students to make them know that we care?