LIZ ANASTASIADIS & ISABELLA ANTONELLI — The Denison community has come together to mourn Sean Bonner and through this, expressed support for one another.
Sean was someone who knew how important community is, as several of his friends said that he always checked in on his friends and supported other teams. He was there for others, and now Denison must learn from Sean in that regard.
Students have spoken out about the two week wait for an appointment at Whisler. Compared to the national wait time of twenty-five days, two weeks is a relatively shorter wait. Some therapy and psychiatric centers take months to see someone. There is no doubt that this is a national problem that needs national attention.
Once a person gets an appointment, the process toward healing is a long one. Therefore, we have to be available in other ways through the toughest times. We need alternative options of healing. This past week, we have seen ways that our community has gathered to provide these different options.
If you look at other, particularly bigger, schools, there is a lack of community around tragic or happy events. Death is much more frequent in those larger populations, which results in a desensitization at big campuses. Students blend together at other schools. But not here. At Denison, we take the time for each student. While some may be doubting community as they try to make sense of things, others have been supported more than they could expect.
Denison is a community where when a student is reported missing, people show up in mass amounts to look for them. This was the case with Sean last Wednesday.
There is no easy or linear path for a school to follow after an event like this.
The day after the tragedy, students gathered behind closed doors and took a moment to reflect and initiate dialogue about widespread issues of suicide, mental health and trauma. Others walked in to professors’ offices across campus to talk, mourn and practice self-care during this difficult time.
With various students who have a history of depression, anxiety and previous deaths in their families, the event, whether or not the student knew Sean, was emotionally triggering.
A communal sadness radiated around campus that struck everyone.
Students took time to mourn in their own way throughout the day through various events offered on the campus that students attended, such as the Vail Series with Dee Dee Bridgewater the day after the tragedy or by going to one of many clubs and organizations that opened their doors to students.
Other ways the community supported each other was eliminating events that felt distracting or overwhelming. For example, Ella Mai’s scheduled D-Day performance was postponed for an alternative date in December in response to the news. With this, the campus was able to focus on the important conversation of mental health.
Last Friday, Swasey Chapel held a candlelight vigil for Sean that filled the seats with hundreds of supporters, friends, faculty and advisors. Each student turned to the person next to them, offering the light to spread throughout the chapel. Participants were asked to think or speak about what they wish to contribute to the Denison community now and in the future.
“Thank you for all the ways you are extending love and care to each other,” said Laurel Kennedy, vice president for student development, in her Campus Update this past Monday morning.
It is imperative now more than ever that everyone connected to the tragedy practice an act of mindfulness, which is a mental state that is achieved by focusing one’s awareness in the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations.
The Whisler Center for Student Wellness’ walk-in counseling hours go from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., in which students will be given the opportunity to speak to the next available counselor, or contact the Whisler Center to schedule an appointment at 740-587-8255.