William & Mary

Memorial Services for Paul Soutter

Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler sent the following message to the campus community April 14, 2015 - Ed.

Dear W&M Community,

Memorial services for Paul Soutter are now being finalized, and I want to share the details with you.

CAMPUS MEMORIAL SERVICE

We will hold a campus memorial service for Paul tomorrow—Wednesday, April 15—at 12:30 p.m. in Commonwealth Auditorium. Please join members of Paul’s family, his friends, and others from the William & Mary community as we gather to remember him and to celebrate his life.

SERVICE PLANNED BY THE FAMILY

Paul’s family welcomes members of the campus community to attend the family’s memorial service on Thursday, April 16 at 7:00 p.m. at Our Savior Lutheran Church, located at 825 S. Taylor Street in Arlington, Virginia (phone: 703-892-4846). The university is working to arrange transportation to and from Arlington on Thursday for students who would like to attend.  To request a seat on the bus, please complete a brief reservation form (https://forms.wm.edu/16642) no later than 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday so we will know how many people to accommodate.

Expressions of sympathy may be sent to Paul’s parents at the following addresses:

Mrs. Catherine Hubbard
4132 Hwy. 208
Marshall, NC 28753-7503

Mr. Paul A. Soutter
PSC 2  Box 11909
APO, AE  09012-0058

OPEN CONVERSATION ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH & SUICIDE PREVENTION

I know many of us have concerns and questions about mental health, suicide, and how to help friends in need.  All members of the W&M community are invited to an open conversation on these issues next Wednesday, April 22, at 5:00 p.m. in Chesapeake BC.  I hope you’ll join us.

Sincerely,

Ginger Ambler

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Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler sent the following message to the campus community April 13, 2015 - Ed.

Dear William & Mary Community,

There is no message worse than the one I share with you today.  With profound sadness, I am writing to tell you of the death of one of our students, Paul D. Soutter, a sophomore from Arlington, Va., who took his own life in the early morning hours today. The WMPD responded immediately after receiving a 911 call from one of his friends.  

In 2013 Paul graduated first in his class from Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, VA. A talented student, he had yet to declare a major at W&M. Paul was also a passionate performer.  In January he played one of the swashbucklers in Sinfonicron Light Opera Company's The Pirates of Penzance, and he was to have performed this month in the premiere of a new W&M student-written, faculty-directed play.  Many on campus have delighted in Paul's talent and wit, enjoying especially his comedic flair as a member of the university's Improvisational Theater (I.T.). 

Since learning this tragic news, members of the student affairs staff and W&M Police have been on campus offering direct assistance to those who were closest to Paul.  The Dean of Students Office, the Counseling Center, Residence Life staff, campus ministers, and my office are available on a priority basis for those who need us. As always, counselors are on call on a 24-hour basis and can be reached after office hours by calling the campus dispatcher at 221-4596. Please see additional information and resources below.  I will send a follow-up message in the coming days once we have information from Paul's family about funeral and/or memorial arrangements. 

At times like this we naturally ask ourselves, "Why did this happen?"  We may never know the answer to that.  In the face of such a terrible loss, it is important that we all take the time to reach out to each other, listen to each other, and offer strength and comfort where we can.  Paul's death reminds us of how close we are to one another at William & Mary.  What affects one of us affects us all. I know you join me in extending our deepest sympathies to the Soutter family and to Paul's many friends.

Sincerely,

Ginger Ambler

TAKING CARE OF OURSELVES AND OUR COMMUNITY

This has been a difficult and painful year for the William & Mary family and many of us are grieving. I hope the following might be useful in the days and months ahead.  Especially in the wake of the deaths that have affected our community, I want to share some information specifically about suicide and suicide prevention.

About Suicide

According to national resources such as the Jed Foundation and the  American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), one in ten college students has at one time considered suicide, and suicide is the third leading cause of death nationally among those 15-24 years of age.  Almost all who die by suicide are suffering from an emotional disorder, most commonly depression.  As the AFSP notes, "90% of all people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death."  Therefore, identifying and treating these illnesses is especially important; someone with an untreated emotional disorder may be more likely to attempt suicide in the wake of stressful life events. 

Recognizing  Warning Signs

The most effective way to help in preventing suicide is to recognize warning signs, take those signs seriously, and respond appropriately.  Fortunately, people who are suicidal CAN be helped with the proper treatment.  Common warning signs of suicide include:

  • Hopelessness
  • Rage, uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge
  • Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
  • Feeling trapped, like there is no way out
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and society
  • Anxiety, agitation, inability to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • Expressing no reason for living or no purpose in life
  • Inability to see the future without pain
  • Inability to make decisions or think clearly
  • Decision to stop taking prescribed medication for depression or other psychological disorder
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

How To Respond if You are Concerned About Someone

  • DO Listen and offer support in a non-judgmental way
  • DO Help the person explore feelings
  • DO Widen options and explore alternatives for problem solving
  • DO Ask direct questions about the person's intentions; ask if the person is considering suicide
  • DO Communicate your concern for the person's well being
  • DO Recommend that the person contact a mental health professional
  • DO Call a professional yourself and offer to accompany the person to an initial appointment
  • DO Call the police if you believe the risk of suicide is immediate
  • DON'T say "everything will be alright"
  • DON'T dare the person to "do it"
  • DON'T tell the person about someone who "has it worse"
  • DON'T promise secrecy to the suicidal person
  • DON'T leave the person alone if you believe the risk of suicide is imminent

William & Mary Resources

There are many campus resources available to give assistance to you and/or someone else in crisis.  Looking out for friends and loved ones is an especially important part of helping to prevent suicide.  In a community as close-knit as ours, we can do a great deal to reach out to one another in support.

EMERGENCY -- Call 911

The Counseling Center, 221-3620

The Student Health Center, 221-4386

The W&M Police, 221-4596

The Dean of Students Office, 221-2510

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255

After hours, the dispatcher at the police department coordinates communication with all on-call professionals, including live-in residence life staff, the dean on-call, and the counselor on-call.