U of T acknowledges death at Bahen Centre, police deem incident non-suspicious

Bahen Centre reopened, students organizing protest

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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