Reported suicides at Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) prompts one student to confront the school about its mental health services.
SCAD senior Elizabeth Thanos’ online petition asks for improvements, including more counselors, shorter waiting periods to see them, and modifications to the school’s absence policy when mental health issues are present.
Thanos says she published the petition Wednesday night after receiving an email about a student death
“We looked up the police reports and found out it was suicide. That’s the third death we’ve had since the beginning of the 2018 academic year and the second due to suicide,” Thanos said. “And immediately when we got that email everyone just kind of fell into a depression.”
The petition has maintained a steady stream of supporters.
Thanos said she believes it’s being well-received because SCAD should recognize their students may have a heightened need for mental health services.
“As a smaller school, full of artistically-minded people, we should have more access to better counseling because we are more inclined to have mental health issues due to our creative process,” she explained.
SCAD’s Marketing and Public Relations Vice President, Allison Hobson-Falkenberry issued this response to the petition: “Our immediate focus is to support the students, parents, and faculty who have been affected by these tragedies. Student wellbeing is our utmost priority, and the ideas and feedback they have voiced are extremely valuable. Our entire SCAD family is grieving, and we encourage anyone in the community to call our counseling office at 912-525-6971.”
Thanos said the petition is not a protest, it’s more about being pro-active in suicide prevention.
“I don’t want another email saying ‘SCAD mourns the passing of a student,’ it’s the worst thing to read, the worst thing to wake up to, and no one should have to feel like suicide is their only option…we just want more options available,” Thanos said.
More than 1,900 people had signed the petition by 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
WSAV will continue to follow developments with this story.