University of North Carolina canceled classes for a 'wellness day' Tuesday after 2 suicide-related events

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unc chapel hill
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill switched from a hybrid model to all-remote learning on Aug. 19. Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images
  • The University of North Carolina observed a "wellness day" Tuesday by canceling all classes.

  • The wellness day came after two suicide-related incidents that occurred over the weekend.

  • Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz encouraged students to check in with each other during this time.

The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill canceled all classes on Tuesday, naming it a "wellness day" after two suicide-related incidents over the weekend.

Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz announced the wellness day in a statement to students on Sunday evening.

The announcement came after a suicide took place Saturday morning at the Hinton James Residence Hall, according to the UNC police's online crime log.

Campus police also responded to an attempted suicide Sunday at 3:35 a.m. at the Granville Towers South on campus, according to the crime log.

Another student died by suicide on September 4 at the Forest Theater.

"We are in the middle of a mental health crisis, both on our campus and across our nation, and we are aware that college-aged students carry an increased risk of suicide," Guskiewicz said in his statement. "This crisis has directly impacted members of our community - especially with the passing of two students on campus in the past month."

He also encouraged students to check in with each other during this difficult time.

Dr. Danielle Roeske, PsyD, Executive Director of Newport Healthcare told Insider she believes UNC's "wellness day" was "an appropriate first step" but it's more important to see what happens next.

Roeske strongly encouraged continuing to have responsible conversations with educated adults about mental health and suicide. These conversations likely won't contribute to higher suicide rates among teens, rather, address a larger issue in a thoughtful way to promote understanding.

"It's already in their world," she said. "Talking about the elephant in the room doesn't create it... It actually gives space to provide dimension and context to it."

She adds that we must take responsibility for the culture that young people endure that has led to this mental health crisis.

"This is here and we really need to think about how we have to shift culturally to really support our young people."

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