Santa Clara University students demand better mental health resources in wake of recent deaths

It is a troubling trend at a university in the South Bay. In one academic quarter, three students have died, two of them by suicide.

Students at Santa Clara University are demanding better mental health resources and academic accommodations in the wake of these deaths.

At Santa Clara University, outside Swig Residence Hall are flowers and balloons in honor of a freshman studying computer science who died Sunday night.

The 19-year-old had jumped off a building on campus and many students saw. Sunday’s student death follows two others.

On October 26, a 22-year-old graduate from Gunn High School in Palo Alto was killed by a Caltrain.

"He had struggled with mental health for a long time and had been very open about it," said Senior Will Maddrey.

On November 10, a 20-year-old student athlete died. His father posted on social media his son was leaving a fraternity party in downtown San Jose and fell on accident about 15 to 20 feet. He died from head trauma.

A group of students said the private Jesuit university is failing when it comes to mental health services.

"School was not helping, school had not been helping," said Senior Shenir Dennis.

"Students are upset because we've been pushing for mental health resources, more mental health resources at SCU since I was a first year in 2018," said Senior Angel Macias.

Students said the university’s counseling and psychological services known as CAPS is stretched thin and inadequate. Students wait weeks for an appointment.

"Mental health has become such a pressing issue," said Senior Angel Macias. "We were isolated from everyone and personally I became more socially anxious coming back from SCU," said Macias.

A petition, calling for academic leniency and contracted crisis counselors, has gathered more than 10,000 signatures.

In an email to students Tuesday night, the university said it is changing its academic policy for the remainder of the year for all undergraduates regardless of class standing modifying its pass/no pass grading option.

The school will also have a 24/7 support line for students available during this critical time. This week, there will be on site support at two residence halls including grief counselors.

"We are in a pandemic," said Junior Mehak Vohra. "It should have been addressed earlier and maybe we wouldn't be in this situation."

Students plan to hold a demonstration Thursday at 12:15 p.m. in front of Mission Church. They expect hundreds of people to attend.

Mental Health Resources for the South Bay and Peninsula 

24-hour Suicide and Crisis Line (Santa Clara County) 650-494-8420 or 408-279-3312
Uplift (EMQ) Crisis Team (Santa Clara County) 408-379-9085 or 877-412-7474
Star Vista Crisis Line (San Mateo County): 650-579-0350
NAMI Santa Clara Warm line: 408-435-0400, option 1
NAMI San Mateo Warm line: 650-638-0800
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) Suicide prevention telephone hotline funded by the U.S. government. Provides free, 24-hour assistance.
Rape Crisis Hot Line (24 hour): 650.493.7273

Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Azenith at and follow her on twitter and instagram @azenithktvu or Facebook or