I believe that I speak for the entire Grand Valley student body when I say that we all deeply mourn the loss of Quinn Campbell. A death of a young person, a student, is tragic on its own, but a death by suicide doubly so. Many knew Quinn, but many like me did not, and yet his loss is still felt deeply by all.
There are many feelings one goes through when mourning a death by suicide: sadness, guilt, grief, worry, anger, to name a few. I think the most notable of these for me right now are worry and anger. Horrifically, Quinn is not the first Laker to end their life on the “Little Mac” bridge, and if we do not do something, he will not be the last. How many more students will pause on that bridge with thoughts of ending their life? How can we as a campus prevent a tragedy like this one from repeating itself?
The solution is to install preventative measures like netting or a “suicide barrier” on the Little Mac bridge. For example, a bridge on Cornell’s campus has netting underneath it in order to prevent suicide but still maintain the scenic view, which I know is also important to our campus. Whatever the form though, the important part is the deterrent from completing suicide. Studies have shown that most people who are stopped from completing suicide or survive the attempt do not go on to complete suicide later. In addition, some form of barrier would give bystanders more time to intervene.
Grand Valley has a good history of doing all they can to provide mental health care to students through resources such as the counseling center, women and gender equality center, and LGBTQIA+ centers, as well as unity events such as exam cram and countless other activities to de-stress students. As we have seen this week, clearly in some cases this is not enough to protect some of our GVSU community members who are really struggling. Taking this additional measure to ensure the safety of your students and staff in Quinn’s honor will help to add a level of safety for those who need it most. While we all hope that the safety netting will never actually be used by one of our GV siblings, if it ever is needed it will be more than worth the effort it takes to put this additional level of safety in place to save a life.
President Mantella, in your announcement of Quinn’s passing, you ended your message with the sentence: “The safety, health, and wellness of all of our campus community members is a priority, and we will continue to take measures and provide resources to ensure this.” I implore you to prioritize the safety, health, and wellness of the Grand Valley campus community by installing safety netting or some other suicide barrier to the Little Mac bridge.