Local death tally reaches 6

James Heggen

The ISU community has seen six student deaths since January.

Dione Somerville, dean of students, said student deaths occur for a variety of reasons.

“Unfortunately, we have students that become deceased on a regular basis,” she said.

What has been unique about this year is the nature of the deaths.

“What’s been so different about this past semester, these past several months, is that we’ve had several, very tragic, very high profile, very public deaths that have occurred,” she said.

These types of deaths have a different effect on the larger community.

“When you hear of something tragic that occurs in a community in which you belong, your response as an individual is different, even if you did not know the person that it occurred to,” she said.

Counseling, holding memorial services or providing opportunities for students to talk about the event are important to help the community heal, in addition to the people most closely affected. 

“One of the most important things we do is reach out to family and friends,” she said. 

The kinds of services the dean of students office provides depends on the person. It can refer students to other help, such as to counseling. Sometimes, it can be as simple as needing someone to talk to. 

They also offer emergency notification for some students, where they can contact a student’s professors to let them know what the student is going through.

“It really depends on the individual student involved,” she said.

For students who think they may need help, Somerville said to “just reach out.”

“The dean of students office main telephone number is 294-1020,” she said. “And if you call that number, someone is going to be at the other end who can either talk to you or make a referral or both.”

Sometimes there is a stigma among students about talking to any administrative office. But Somerville ensures that all conversations are confidential. 

“We encourage students that if you feel like you need just a little boost, to reach out to us and we’re there to help,” she said.