U of T released its first statement today acknowledging the death at the Bahen Centre for Information Technology last night, sending out a Twitter thread at noon asking people to respect the individual’s privacy.
Members of our community may have been affected by the recent incident at the Bahen Centre. At this time, we wish to respect the privacy of the individual involved and acknowledge the profound effect on family, friends and colleagues. (1/5)
— University of Toronto (@UofT) March 18, 2019
Toronto Police spokesperson Jenifferjit Sidhu told The Varsity, “The investigation at this time is non-criminal and not suspicious.”
The Bahen Centre was temporarily closed earlier today while police investigated the incident. Several classes were relocated as a result.
The Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering announced that the building reopened at 1:00 pm today, though 1:00 pm classes that had been moved would still take place in the locations announced this morning. Classes starting at 2:00 pm are set to take place in Bahen as originally scheduled.
Update: the Bahen Centre will reopen as of 1:00pm. 1:00pm classes that were relocated will go ahead in their new locations. 2:00pm classes will take place in Bahen as originally scheduled.
— U of T Engineering (@uoftengineering) March 18, 2019
Undergraduate Associate Chair for the Department of Computer Science Michelle Craig also emailed Computer Science students shortly after 12:30 pm on Monday, acknowledging the death and asking for people to respect the individual’s privacy. Both the email and U of T’s Twitter thread listed mental health services and hotlines for people to access.
Community disappointed in U of T’s response
U of T’s response to the incident has been criticized by students over social media, with many linking it to perceived inaction on mental health issues.
One person on Twitter replied to U of T’s tweet by writing, “Condolences mean nothing until we see real change.”
This is not good enough! You must do better. As someone who has struggled with mental health issues, getting help is near impossible.When I was suicidal in 2nd year I was told to wait 6 months to see a psychiatrist! This is insane Condolences mean nothing until we see real change
— tas (@tazzyttime) March 18, 2019
Shortly after the news was broken last night, U of T students organized a silent protest that is set for today from 2:00–6:00 pm at King’s College Circle, near President Meric Gertler’s office.
The event’s description states that U of T’s “gross negligence towards its students has led to a toxic campus environment.”
“The U of T administration refuses to acknowledge this ongoing crisis, and treats these students like an afterthought — in addition to the tradition long practiced by the administration, of ignoring advice to modernize and strengthen U of T’s mental health services.”
The Varsity has reached out to U of T Media Relations for comment.
If you or someone you know is in distress, you can call:
- Canada Suicide Prevention Service phone available 24/7 at 1-833-456-4566
- Good 2 Talk Student Helpline at 1-866-925-5454
- Ontario Mental Health Helpline at 1-866-531-2600
- Gerstein Centre Crisis Line at 416-929-5200
- U of T Health & Wellness Centre at 416-978-8030.
Warning signs of suicide include:
- Talking about wanting to die
- Looking for a way to kill oneself
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
- Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting anxious, agitated, or recklessly
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Displaying extreme mood swings
The more of these signs a person shows, the greater the risk. If you suspect someone you know may be contemplating suicide, you should talk to them, according to the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.