Letter to the Editor: UCI Student's Suicide Ignored

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Letter to the Editor: UCI Student's Suicide Ignored

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I am writing with some reactions I had to three pieces in the New University of April 30, namely Anam Siddiq's front-page article on UC Irvine's vigil for the Virginia Tech community members who died on April 16, their families, and the survivors; Emilie Doolittle's article on under-funded counseling services at UCI; and Philip Grant's open letter to Chancellor Michael V. Drake on his message to the UCI community in response to the Virginia Tech events.

Grant asks why the chancellor would send a message about 32 dead in Virginia, instead of any number of dead on a given day in Iraq. There is probably no answer, or too many, to that question. I have a different question: Why have the murders of 31 and the suicide of another on a campus in Virginia warranted a campus-wide message and vigil, while the March 30 suicide death by gunshot in a social sciences stairwell of a member of UCI's own student body goes unmentioned, save a lede in the OC Register and a similar one at the beginning of Doolittle's article?

Did this student's life mean less than any one of the victims at Virginia Tech? Does the proximity of his death, and his membership in our UCI community, before we get to questions of "our nation," as Grant mentions, not make the event of his suicide perhaps more important, in terms of a public announcement and vigil? We were called upon to cope openly with the Virginia tragedy; is there no need to cope with the death of a fourth-year undergraduate who must have had human connections here—roommates, classmates, professors and friends? Or did the distance and sensationalism that marked the Virginia events call more for a public response than a largely unnoticed nighttime end to a UCI student's life in a quiet stairwell?

I believe that a community response to this young man's death would do more to remind us of the pressures of university living, and to produce awareness of treatment options, than a response to a series of deaths thousands of miles away. Perhaps his family would benefit, as well. I do not know his name, and perhaps we should not. I mourn for him in some way, nevertheless, and in another way, I mourn for the loss of a memorial from his, our, community—a memorial that would have afforded us a moment to consider some of the values that Chancellor Drake sets out: respect, empathy, appreciation, or at the very least what Vice Chancellor Gómez described at the vigil for others as "stunned sorrow and common grief." Perhaps these can be shown in silence, but can they be shown in ignorance?

Brook Haley
Ph.D. Candidate,
Department of Comparative Literature

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Brook Haley

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2007-08-19

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Sara Hood

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Zachary Gale <newueic@gmail.com>

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eng

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Brook Haley, "Letter to the Editor: UCI Student&#39;s Suicide Ignored," in The April 16 Archive, Item #1137, http://april16archive.org/items/show/1137 (accessed October 22, 2014).