Caltech officials are backing the creation of a task force to address mental health issues on campus following the suicides of two students at the prestigious university in the past three months.
The Board of Trustees endorsed Caltech President Jean-Lou Chameau’s recommendation for the task force last week, just days after the death of yet another student.
Long Phan, a 24-year-old graduate student, was found dead in his home July 22. The cause of death remains under investigation, the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office said Monday.
A Caltech senior and junior both died by suicide in May, their deaths marking the fifth and sixth suicides at the university in 20 years, Caltech Media Relations Director Jon Weiner said.
Once members are named, the task force will “identify ways in which we can improve the mental wellbeing of members of the community and more effectively address mental health issues,” Weiner said.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students, following accidents, according to the Suicide and Mental Health Association International. It is the 11th leading cause of death for all Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Although the Caltech Board of Trustees approved the task force at its meeting last week, it was unclear when task force members will be named.
Students and faculty at the university have year-round access to counseling services and a Web page that discusses depression and suicide prevention at length. Visit counseling.caltech.edu/Suicid-Depress.html. Caltech students in need of grief assistance should call (626) 395-8331.