Thrive on Campus//

What to Do About Death in a College Community

From the people you thought you knew to those who remind you of your own friends...

Max Von Arx (center) at high school graduation.

Welcome to our new section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus.) We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.

I recently transferred from my local community college to Benedictine College in Atchison, KS. The community college had a nice mass comm section with friendly people and the capability of borrowing equipment for the period of about a day or so. I liked that part of it. But, being a community college, it was a total clash of cultures and mindsets, which can be a good thing sometimes.

The anti-Christian teachings of many of the professors are what led me to search for higher education elsewhere. But something even more terrible happened my last semester there. I was not directly involved, but it touched me because it had an impact on a friend of mine. She was a girl I’d gone to high school with. She did nothing wrong, and neither did anybody else who was in Professor P.S. Ruckman’s classes. But when the word got out, the college offered free emotional consultation meetings. It was awful.

The political science professor was dead. He had killed his two sons, then committed suicide. This insanity was just disturbing. And I wasn’t even in one of his classes. Nevertheless, the college faculty realized the shock and were nice enough to provide a service to those students whom this news hit the hardest.

Here at Benedictine, things are different. Most of us being in our teens or tweens, we are already predisposed to certain emotion meltdowns. But it becomes hardest to control when we lose someone who is dear to us. My best friend, Max Von Arx, died at the age of 18. He was attending Steubenville University. He fell in a hiking accident on October 20th, 2017.

Now just a few weeks ago, two of my fellow college students were killed in a joy-riding driving accident. Though I didn’t even know them, I mourned them. The incident really reminded me of Max. I think the good part about the aftermath of this latter tragedy was how the college came together. Christian fellowship is strong here, and practically everyone on campus felt a loss while, at the same time, there was a strong bond between us.

And it is this fraternity which helps us through difficult times like these. If businesses, colleges, and communities can grasp and be willing to adopt the notion of authentic fellowship, many mental and social barriers could be quickly healed. More drugs are not the answer to depression; consolation in human friendship is.

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More on Mental Health on Campus:

What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need

If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help

The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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