Taking Care of Community

By Megan Reilly

This past week, GW experienced an almost-tragedy and how our campus community came together was beautiful.

On Thursday afternoon, there was an attempted (but thankfully unsuccessful) suicide at a residence hall that is centrally located on a busy campus road. It took hours for there to be any real news regarding the incident and it was not until the next morning that it was announced that the student was in the hospital, alive, and undergoing treatment.

But news wasn't what the campus community needed or even sought as hundreds of students flocked to the internet in response. A few reliable sources gave just the need-to-know information and from there the only thing that remained important was that the campus community continued to support each other in a difficult time.

There were very few, if any, pleas for more information, guessing or speculating about having information that wasn't yet available, or any kind of negativity towards the injured student at all. Students instead used Twitter, Facebook, and specifically the popular "Overheard" Facebook group as a way to take advantage of the instant and wide access to information that the internet provides -- to share words of support and comfort, to post the hours and phone numbers of suicide hotlines, the university’s counseling services, national depression hotlines, the campus CARE Network system, and various other resources available to students, some of which I didn't know were even available on campus, and to simply stay connected, albeit in a virtual space, to the rest of the Colonial family.

Campus tragedies are unfortunately inevitable and we were lucky this time to avoid something worse. But the resulting support and collaboration of students, faculty, staff, senior administration, and even alumni, will not be forgotten immediately. Support services are in place and they are a wonderful resource to become familiar with on your campus. You really never know when you're going to need them.
Follow Megan on Twitter at @MReilly90

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