William & Mary

Memorial service for Whitney Mayer

Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler sent the following message to the campus community Oct. 22, 2010. Please note change in time to 3:30 p.m. for the memorial servicve for Whitney Mayer. The location is the Crim Dell Meadow. - Ed.

Dear W&M Community,
Plans are now being been finalized for memorial services for Whitney Mayer -- I know many of you have been awaiting these details so that you can join with others in remembering her.
A campus memorial service for Whitney is being planned for next Friday afternoon, October 29, 2010 at 3:30 p.m.  The location will be announced early in the week.  Please join Whitney's family, her friends and others from the William and Mary community as we gather then to celebrate her life with us. 
Whitney's family has planned a memorial service and celebration of her life tomorrow in their hometown of Plano, Texas.  Expressions of sympathy can be sent to the Mayer's home address at 5208 Corinthian Bay Drive, Plano, TX  75093.  In addition, The Sparkman/Hillcrest Funeral Home website offers a way for condolences to be shared with the family on-line.  Whitney's obituary is posted there, along with a gallery of special family photographs.  Whitney's family is confident that she would want donations to be made to non-profit groups in her memory, in lieu of flowers.  They have selected the following organizations:  The Nature Conservancy (Tribute Fund #12230406), whose mission is to "preserve the plants, animals, and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth;" and the Jed Foundation, an organization that "works nationally to reduce the rate of suicide and the prevalence of emotional distress among college and university students."
Each year as part of William and Mary's Homecoming Weekend, the Sunset Ceremony is held on Friday afternoon.  This year's ceremony will take place tomorrow, October 22 at 5:00 p.m. in the Wren Courtyard.  Whitney's name will be among those read aloud as the College remembers our alumni who have passed away in the last year. 
This has been a very difficult and painful time 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 recent suicides 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. 
Knowing the Warning Signs
The most effective way to help in preventing suicide is to know the 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 and 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.
•    The Counseling Center, 221-3620
•    The Student Health Center, 221-4386
•    The W&M Police, 221-4596
•    The Dean of Students Office, 221-2510
•    After hours, the evening dispatcher at the police department coordinates communication with all on-call professionals, including residence life staff, the dean on-call, and the counselor on-call
•    EMERGENCY -- Call 911
Our thoughts continue to be with Whitney's family and friends at this difficult time.
Ginger Ambler