North Carolina State University closed the book on an academic year that tragically saw 14 students die, as university officials confront a mental health crisis on their campus.
During the past year, seven NC State students died by suicide, two fatally overdosed, four passed away from natural causes, and one died in a car crash, Mick Kulikowski, the university's director of strategic communications and media relations, told ABC News.
Over a dozen students and mental health experts told ABC the loss of life was "staggering and tragic." Mariana Fabian, a fourth-year student, said she "really started feeling it once it got to the fourth student death, because it really started to feel like it was an epidemic on campus at that point." Fabian is also an editor for the NC State newspaper, The Technician, the homepage of which is riddled with stories of student deaths and resources for mental health.
As the deaths continued, NC State convened a task force in November 2022 to address the ongoing crisis. This task force pledged to "take inventory of existing mental health resources on campus, research best practices from academic literature and peer institutions, and review our existing policies, rules, and regulations that affect student mental health."
A report from the task force found the school needed to "provide additional resources needed to improve student mental health and well-being," and admitted that more focus on these areas was necessary.
A study from the University of Michigan found that there are approximately 1,100 students who die by suicide every year, making it the second-leading cause of death on college campuses. The phenomenon is not unique to NC State, with the American Psychological Association's chief science officer Mitch Prinstein telling ABC there is a "remarkable crisis with kids desperately needing mental health services" but not being able to get any.