U students stop attempted suicide

University police reported that suicide attempts have increased on campus.

Luke Feuerherm

A group of students rushed to the aid of a man as he climbed the railing on a walking bridge over Washington Avenue in front of Coffman Union in an attempted suicide Tuesday afternoon.

Two students crossing the bridge wrestled the man off the railing, and several others distracted him until police arrived minutes later.

University of Minnesota senior Alex Rongstad, one of the students on the bridge, described the circumstances as surreal.

“In that situation you want to say something really profound,” Rongstad said.

University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said police were able to get the man into a squad car and transported him to the hospital, where he was put on a health and welfare hold.

Reported suicide attempts on campus appear to be becoming more common, Miner said.

“ItâÄôs not something that is easy to track per se because they donâÄôt always work their way into a police report,” he said. “On the surface there appears to be more incidents.”

Dr. Gary Christenson, director of Mental Health Services at Boynton Health Service said while there isnâÄôt a significant rise in students diagnosed with mental illnesses like depression, there is an increase in requests for service.

In February, Boynton announced “an unexpectedly high demand for new therapy appointments” made it more difficult to make an appointment.

“At this time, it is likely that students requesting initial therapy appointments will be offered an appointment one month or more into the future,” the release said.

According to a 2010 Boynton survey, 0.5 percent of University students reported having attempted suicide in the past year.

Christenson said the incident Tuesday on the bridge is a good example of students looking out for others in these situations. “Everyone can really help everyone with mental health on campus. Sounds like two brave students stepped in, and that is great.”

Boynton is offering a presentation Wednesday night at Coffman Union on ways students can help fellow students in distress.

 

-Cali Owings contributed to this report.