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SLU cancels classes Friday to focus on mental health after 2 on-campus deaths

One of the deaths was by suicide. The university would not report a cause for the second death, but police said it also was a suicide

ST. LOUIS — Saint Louis University leaders canceled all undergraduate classes Friday to give students a day to focus on mental health after two on-campus deaths in the last few weeks, at least one of which was by suicide.

"We come to you today as three leaders within the OneSLU community who have heard repeatedly during the last 36 hours how exhausted and anguished our campus feels at this moment," a letter from university leaders said Tuesday. "The loss of two students is unprecedented for SLU, and requires an unprecedented response."

The first death was on Sept. 11. A university spokesman said the family consented to publicly naming the cause of death as suicide. The second death happened on Monday. The university did not say what the cause of death was. A St. Louis police spokesperson said the death was a suicide.

The letter from Provost Mike Lewis, Vice President for Student Development Sarah Cunningham and SGA President Nandini Fonseca said they are working on activities for students. The schedule is expected to include prayer walks, mental health support and trauma-informed yoga.

The letter said the university will also be working to improve the mental health and wellness resources available to students.

The announcement came as an online petition called for changes to the school's mental health programs. A Change.org petition with more than 6,300 signatures calls for an increase in counseling availability.

"We understand that the University is working to expand the Counseling Center, but these are the things the students need now and going forward," the petition said.

If you need mental health support, you can call the Behavioral Health Response Crisis Hotline at 314-469-6644 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

The university has scheduled several "reflection and self care" events throughout the day on Friday. See the schedule in the document below.