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Shocking Suicide Insensitivity

A woman student at Utah Valley University was evicted from student housing for telling her roommates that she was suicidal.

Yes, you read that right.

The landlord of the building (not affiliated with the university) said that by sharing her depression and fears with her roommates, she had stressed THEM out and violated the terms of her lease....

Where to begin.... the 18-year-old student, whose identity has been withheld, had been dealing with depression for two years following the death of her mother. Stress from school and isolation from the Covid lockdown made things worse. She had stopped going to work, was going to drop her classes and had was becoming hopeless and suicidal. So she confided in her roommates, two of whom had known her before they moved in together.

When her roommates brushed her off, she isolated even more. Then they went to the landlord, who responded with the eviction notice, giving her six days to vacate the apartment. The notice said she had breached the “quiet enjoyment of the premises” and threatening “endangerment of human life.” SHE caused THEM "stress and alarm."

"The notice was taped on her door sometime Tuesday, where she found it after getting out of bed. Still in her pajamas, she said, she immediately panicked and tried to start packing up her belongings. “But I was shaking so heavily that I couldn’t move anything,” she recounted."

She has since moved in with a friend and is getting support, according to the article.

But I can barely express or describe the insensitivity and damage I see here....

It is the ultimate in shame and blame - this will make her healing much tougher.

The weight of the loss of her mother, at age 16, seems to have been the catalyst for her crisis. It appears she may not have gotten any support for that at all, or at least anything that helped. At such a tender age, no one went to bat for this girl. The university appears to have a wellness program and a crisis line - did she reach out to them? Did she even know they were there?

The roommates who complained to the landlord are just a symptom of the larger issue - people in crisis do not ask for help. And when they do ask, which takes immense courage, they are often rejected and called "dramatic" - or are accused of being over the top or extra or too sensitive...

The landlord who pursued her with an eviction notice? What a horrible thing to do. What a tremendous lack of understanding and empathy. And the university said because they did not own the building, there was nothing they could do...really?

Losing a mother when you are young and ill-equipped can break you into tiny pieces. I know - that was me. I was terribly lucky and blessed to find help and eventually get support. But that's why this article gets to me. This girl was much younger than I was when Mom died when I was 25. Clearly she did not get support that was consistent or empowering, if at all, prior to coming to campus. And within a few short weeks, she had been rejected by her roommates and throw out by housing. I am so very glad she has found a compassionate friend to take her in. But this girl came very close to a tragic end, I feel....

This is emblematic of my thesis that the entire national conversation about grief, and about mental health, MUST change.

Depression is not a character flaw.

Asking for help is not weakness.

Struggling is not being dramatic.

Please teach this to anyone who will listen - you may save a life.

Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to be connected to a trained counselor at a suicide crisis center nearest you.


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