By Joseph Lyell —
U of L’s campus is in mourning after a student committed suicide by jumping from the Speed Museum parking garage Aug. 16.
Senior Dekoda Battoe was leaving work at the Communication Department in Strickler Hall when he came across several emergency vehicles and paramedics surrounding a man on the ground between Strickler and the garage.
“I watched for about 10 minutes as they tended to an unmoving person on the ground,” Battoe said. “I assumed he had passed out from heat or something.”
Battoe said the EMS workers weren’t moving urgently, so he initially thought it wasn’t serious. But when medics lifted the victim from the ground and onto a gurney, he realized the man was gravely injured.
“I wish I could’ve talked to the dude. I couldn’t possibly put myself in his shoes but I hate that he felt like that was his only option,” Battoe said.
Communications professor Richard Slawsky was in Strickler during the incident, and witnessed some of the aftermath from a window in the building. He said about 20 police officers were controlling the scene.
“They had the whole area taped off and there were policemen all over the place,” Slawsky said.
Slawsky said by that time the body had been removed, he saw a crowd gathering and left because he didn’t want to get in the way.
“You have to wonder, what was this person suffering from, or what was going on in their life?” Slawsky said.
Slawsky said with the incident happening on campus, it’s possible that academics were a factor in the student’s decision.
“I’ve had students come up to me who were going through issues with grades, or things at home, that sort of thing, and I referred them to the Counseling Center,” Slawsky said, though he hasn’t heard any feedback about the center.
“We feel for this person’s family, and what this person was going through. Hopefully if there’s anyone else in a similar situation, they’ll reach out and get some help,” Slawsky said.
University spokesperson John Karman said this isn’t the first suicide to happen on U of L’s campus.
“As a school with more than 22,000 students, tragically we do have occasional suicides. Often we would not send a note to students out of respect for the privacy of those involved,” Karman said.
An unsigned email to students from the university confirmed reports of the incident two hours after it happened, and listed suicide-prevention resources for students. Full text below:
“Message to the U of L Community
Today, we lost one of our students to an apparent suicide. We grieve with the friends and family.
Help is available to the Cardinal Family. Please reach out to an RA at any time or contact the Counseling Center tomorrow between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at 502-852-6585.
Please call the suicide prevention line at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741 if you have thoughts of self-harm.
Cardinals, please take care of yourselves, and let us watch out for one another.”
Photo by Joseph Lyell / The Louisville Cardinal