Depression mixed with weapons: Dead-Lands in the making

By Caroline Young |

Opinion G logoWe heard one gun shot.  Sounds of sirens ricocheted from buildings in downtown DeLand, a small Florida town.

“Dead-Land,” we called it.

I was standing in front of a bar on a chilly Thursday in January 2008. It was about 10 p.m. and most Stetson College students were ringing in the weekend mirthfully after a stressful week.

One student was clearly not in his fellow classmates’ “Thirsty Thursday” state of mind when he shot himself with a revolver in the middle of campus.

With seemingly endless papers to write, tests to study for and social pressures, college campuses tend to have a dense concentration of depressed and suicidal people.

He had been struggling for sometime. The student was in the process of being escorted back to the psychiatric ward of the DeLand Hospital when he did it.

Candles and a rose lay on the ground next to Stetson’s music school that Friday morning, right where he took his own life.

Classes were still in session but the mood change was undeniable.  The counseling center overflowed with confused and frightened kids, including myself.

Thoughts swirled in my brain and bombarded my mind. Why did this happen so suddenly? Where did Scott get his hands on that gun? Why was it on campus?

Officials called the 2008 Stetson suicide an “isolated incident,” but it created a domino effect that semester.

One sorority girl was found lying in a pool of blood in the Alpha Xi Delta house after slitting her wrists. A sister rushed her to the hospital. She lived.

Another young man fatally shot himself in his off-campus apartment. And one day, we were forced to stay in our dorms for several hours while a young woman threatened to kill herself on the rooftop of the library.

This chaos happened in about four months.

And just a year earlier, the Virginia Tech massacre had shaken the country, leaving 33 people dead.

After events like these, it is baffling that there are state laws in consideration to stop college campuses from banning weapons.

If suicides and mass killings have become so common on college campuses, why would we allow campus weaponry advocacy groups, like Concealed Carry on Campus, to prevail?

CCC is made up of more than 42,000 college students, professors, parents and other citizens. One of their arguments is that people who carry licensed handguns are less likely to commit a violent crime.

But what happens when a student is depressed to the point of suicide?  And another one after that?

One in 12 college students have made plans to end their lives.

The solution should not be to allow concealed weapons on campus. They should be further out of reach.

Then, maybe the ones struggling could be saved.  And in some cases like Virginia Tech, other lives could be saved as well.

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