Coping with tragedy

Nov 092005
Authors: Margaret Canty, Vimal Patel


The University Counseling Center – call (970) 491-6053 during normal office hours, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Or call their 24-hour emergency number – (970) 491-7111

Hartshorn Health Services – (970) 491-7121

Residence Life – (970) 491-4719

Suicide Hotline – 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)

Poudre Valley Hospital – (970) 495-7000

Suicide Resource Center of Larimer County – (970) 635-9301 *Not a crisis center

In the aftermath of a suicide last week on campus, students' reactions have varied from confusion to depression and everything in between, but CSU is taking the steps to provide comfort.

"Everyone reacts to grief differently. It depends where they are individually. One of the best coping mechanisms is just talking about it with a good friend," said Dr. Charles Davidshofer, director of the University Counseling Center (UCC). "If they're having difficulty, and it's beginning to affect their daily lives, then they should seek out assistance."

Tonie Miyamoto, the communication coordinator for housing and dining services , said some students may be dealing with depression, and it is important to "reach out and take advantage" of the resources CSU offers.

"These events can trigger feelings of depression and have a ripple effect, especially during this busy time of the semester," Miyamoto said. "We want students to recognize and utilize the network we have here at CSU."

On Nov. 1, 19-year-old Linsey Norton, freshman interior design major, hung herself in her residence hall room, according to Larimer County deputy coroner Debbie Reisdorff. The official cause of death was asphyxiation, said coroner's investigator Diane Fairman.

Norton was transported to Poudre Valley Hospital, where doctors pronounced her dead, Reisdorff said.

The night of the suicide a crisis management team was put on the floor, and the next day a letter went out to Corbett residents regarding resources available for anyone struggling. Each Corbett wing had a meeting conducted by response teams including a representative from the counseling center, a residence assistant and a full-time staff member.

The letter and the response teams emphasized the use of the UCC, located in C36 Clark, and counselors were made available in Corbett's lobby Nov. 2. Student fees pay for the first five visits to the UCC.

Hartshorn Health Center is another resource on campus, and offers both medical and psychiatric help, and according to the letter to Corbett residents, can screen for depression, a treatable condition. Symptoms could include suicidal thoughts.

"This event could trigger others to have thoughts of suicide," Miyamoto said. "Hartshorn can offer help."

Claire Smith, nurse practioner at Hartshorn , recommended analyzing one's quality of life to assess a serious case of depression.

"If on a scale of one to 10 it's a six or below, then you're probably not very happy," Smith said.

She said common signs of depression include, but are not limited to, loss of fun in activities previously considered enjoyable, lack of or over-sleeping, isolation, lack of motivation, crying easily or changes in appetite.

"I would encourage those (experiencing these problems) to get a counseling evaluation. Come in, and get help," Smith said. " Not always, but often, we provide medication."

Miyamoto said the last of the "big three" resources to utilize on campus are the residence hall staff, including resident assistants and full-time staff members. RAs are trained to deal with suicide and related issues.

"RAs are trained to handle problems, so I would talk with a friend you trust who's close to you and you can tell anything to, and talk to an RA about whatever is bothering you because they can help," said Eric Melson, freshman geology major and Corbett resident.

Davidshofer said depending on how close a person was with Norton or the event, some grief is expected, but if it lasts more than a couple weeks and is effecting one's daily life, then something should be done.

"When people lose perspective of seeing other options besides suicide out of a particular dilemma they're facing, then that's where they need help," he said.


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