Content warning: This article contains mentions of suicide.
In an email to the New College community on November 3, New College Principal Bonnie McElhinny wrote that a first-year New College student who was living in Chestnut Residence, Keshav Mayya, has died.
“We have spoken with his family and conveyed our deepest condolences,” wrote McElhinny.
McElhinny urged students who need support during this time to access campus services. “If you are in need of support, I encourage you to reach out to University resources. The staff at Health and Wellness are aware that a tragedy has occurred in the University community and are ready to provide support.”
Micah Stickel, U of T’s acting Vice-Provost Students, wrote to The Varsity that Mayya died by suicide at an off-campus location on November 2. “The impact of this tragic loss reaches far beyond the University community and we encourage you to come together to support one another,” added Stickel.
The University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) had posted last night on November 2 that it “has recently been made aware that a member of the University of Toronto community has passed away.”
“We are in communication with the University to gather more information,” added the UTSU. The post also shared a number of resources for accessing support.
On November 3, the Arts and Science Students’ Union executives (ASSU) also released a statement: “we are reminded of the many systematic failures of this institution. Our mental health resources are inadequate, our mental health policies are appalling, and the responses from our university administration are absolutely upsetting.”
“As a campus community, we urge you to check on friends and fellow peers,” executives wrote. “We hope to also continue to advocate for students at the Faculty level and ensure that greater effort is made to support the mental health and well-being of our students.”
Since 2018, The Varsity has reported on four deaths that occurred on U of T’s campuses: one in June 2018, one in January 2019, one in March 2019, and one in September 2019. Three of them occurred at the Bahen Centre for Information Technology. In response to the previous deaths, students have organized demonstrations and lobbied the administration for better mental health support.
Editor’s note (November 3): This article has been updated to include comment from the ASSU and Micah Stickel, to clarify the circumstances of the death, and to provide historical context about recent deaths in the U of T community.
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.