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App State students respond to high number of student deaths

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BOONE, N.C. — Last Friday, another Appalachian State University student died, bringing the total number of student deaths to nine this school year alone.

"It's sad and it's kind of scary, it makes you like, wonder what's going on," said Melissa Tally, a sophomore at the university.

We wondered the same thing. Why? With administrators largely in meetings the majority of the day, we asked the students themselves.

"It's just been bad circumstances and they all just happened to fall within several weeks of each other and months of each other," said Erin Hennington, an App State senior. "I really don't think there's a theory or anything like that. I think it's just really bad circumstances."

"It could be a multitude of reasons," said sophomore Alex Nowinski. "I don't think [there is] only one sole reason for all of the deaths."

Four of the deaths have been ruled suicides. Many believe it's the administration's job to help students battling depression, and while it may be easy to put the blame on administrators, students say they're doing their job.

"I don't have any explanation for it. I feel like the administrators and the counselors and RAs, everybody's doing everything that they were trained to do," Tally said.

Students say that administrators have been holding group meetings with the students and will continue to do so.

"You could ask questions, give them feedback on things they can do better and things like that, and it was really productive I feel like," Tally said. "They really took into consideration what people had to say and different ideas people threw around. So, I feel like it was productive and they really showed that they do care."

"I believe that, since most of the deaths have been off campus, you can't put as much blame as most people are on the university," Nowinski said. "We have a great counseling center and [there are] definitely people that are there to help you with any issue."

"Every single teacher I've had has been upfront about the fact that, if you have an issue, you need to go see a counselor," junior Jessica Mitchell said. "Whether it's your friends, whether it's your teachers, anybody would be willing to help anybody up here, it's a great school."

Two of the deaths were a result of traffic accidents, while investigators say the cause of the remaining deaths remain undetermined.