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Letter to the editor: Ohio State needs to make students aware of counseling options

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Letter to the editor:

The Ohio State community was devastated by Sunday’s news of the discovery of Kosta Karageorge’s body. Kosta, 22, was a redshirt-senior walk-on for the Ohio State football team and former Buckeye varsity wrestler. He had been missing since the morning of Nov. 26, and police said he appeared to have died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. After spending four years on the wrestling team and this past fall on the football team, Kosta likely understood what it meant to be a Buckeye as much as anyone else. It takes a combination of talent and determination to make your way to being a two-sport varsity athlete at a school like OSU, and Kosta displayed both in his years of wrestling and football. Unfortunately for Kosta, his friends and his family, numerous athletic concussions might have contributed to his tragic passing. 

Students who attend the Ohio State University face demanding coursework and intense pressures that result in the natural stresses of college life. Kosta Karageorge faced the stresses that go along with being a student-athlete on top of those other stresses. OSU has done a lot of work to improve the overall experience for its students, and has made great successes in many areas of student health and safety. It needs to be more widely known that students have a couple options via the Wellness Center and Counseling and Consultation Service if they are feeling depressed or have too much anxiety. OSU offers a Suicide Prevention Program that provides outreach and training for students. Per the OSU Counseling and Consultation Service website, students have the ability to schedule up to 10 free sessions per academic year. While this is phenomenal, there are still many issues that are in place: namely, the lack of knowledge among students of these services, and the inability of CCS and the Wellness Center to effectively accommodate students in need (i.e. waiting times for these services can last up months on end). 

Kosta’s potential suicide was not the first by an Ohio State student, but hopefully it will be the last. The issue of mental health awareness and services has grown in prominence both nationally and locally for the past several years, however, recent events prove it still isn’t enough. That is the crux of why I’m writing this opinion article: for all the work that has gone into mental health at OSU, it is evident that there is much more still to be done. If the death of a student-athlete cannot push OSU to expand its resources and increase outreach/awareness, then I’m afraid nothing will.

As a third-year student, I have experienced the highs and lows of being a Buckeye. This scenario with Kosta Karageorge is easily the saddest I have ever felt for our community because it’s something that is entirely preventable. The university must make a serious commitment to taking care of its students by increasing the mental health resources available to them, and further educating all of us on what resources are available. If steps aren’t taken, our community will almost certainly face more suicides — or other violent acts — among the student body. So let’s see the university finally address the needs and deficiencies in this area that have been talked about for years. Let’s increase funding to CCS so that those who want to see a counselor don’t have to wait. Let’s have every student go through REACH Training with the OSU Suicide Prevention Program so that we can all identify when our friends are struggling and know how to approach them. Let’s put our university on the front lines of mental health awareness and truly make this campus a place where students can feel safe and happy.

Noel Fisher

Third-year in political science and urban, regional & global studies

fisher.1137@osu.edu

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