In our three-and-a-half years working at The Daily Pennsylvanian, close to 10 students have died by suicide, a statistic as remarkable to write as it is now commonplace to hear across campus. With each email from some Penn administrator, we have grown numb to feeling pain, to mourning the death of someone close to us, to finally attaching a name to the problem of mental illness endemic to Penn.
Mental health is an intensely personal topic, shaped inexorably by the circumstances, preferences and lifestyle of an individual person. Starting a dialogue on mental health requires both patience to grasp at what is elusive and acceptance of the impossibility of capturing every nuance of stress, addiction and trauma. A conversation about mental health can take a variety of forms. What it cannot tolerate is silence.
Inside the DP and 34th Street today and online at our projects page, an extraordinarily dedicated team of writers, editors, designers and photographers have singularly committed themselves to breaking that silence. For months, the DP and Street have been coordinating a day completely devoted to mental health coverage encompassing angles as varied as student narratives, tips for self-care and investigations of University policy. If you’re looking for an update on how Penn football performed at Brown this weekend, or a look at how many crimes were reported during Halloweekend, theDP.com will continue to be updated with fresh content by the minute.
But today is one where one type of coverage — and one issue — reigns supreme.
By no less than a happy accident, the publication of our special issue on mental health falls on the same day as a “Campus Conversation” organized by Penn administrators to discuss “what we can do, individually and collectively, to take care of ourselves and others and to foster individual and community resilience.” That conversation, set to take place from 5-7 p.m. in the Zellerbach Theater, is one of the first instances we can recall of something that should come as instinct to University leadership: a willing acknowledgement that its students are struggling.
In announcing the event, Penn officials wrote, “A community that values wellness, community support, and resilience is best poised to find creative and constructive solutions to our challenges.” We could not agree more with the spirit of this statement and we hope that in these pieces, interested readers can find a multitude of ways to begin confronting those difficult, necessary challenges.
Carter Coudriet, President
Dan Spinelli, Executive Editor