Year-end stress ups urgency of Western fundraiser

A fraternity at Western University that lost a member to suicide nearly a decade ago continues to raise money for mental health resources on campus, services it says still are lacking at high-stress times of the school year.


Western students are gearing up for the Austen Berlet camp-out for mental health, a student-led event that has added gravity after the suicide of an engineering student this academic year.


The event, started in 2010, honours a physics student and Phi Gamma Delta fraternity member whose life ended far too soon, organizer Trevor Wright said.


Western students don’t know how many of their peers die by suicide each year, but suicide is the second-leading cause of death among young people in Canada.


“We understand why, from the university’s and family’s perspective, the information is withheld out of respect for individuals and circumstances, but we do know it is important for the community to understand what is happening,” said Wright. “With the new university funding model that is coming (from the province) next year, it’s going to be even harder to deliver services to students.”


The concert and camp-out is designed to raise awareness of mental health challenges, reduce stigma for those seeking help and pay for an extra counsellor to assist students during final exams.


“For us, this is a very timely issue because what we are doing will… help expand services and potentially keep services afloat that might have to be cancelled,” Wright said.


During the last nine years, Western students have raised $120,000 for the Canadian Mental Health Association.


Last year, students raised more than $15,000 to fund the additional counsellor during April.


This year, they plan to expand their initiatives with a goal of $20,000 to provide increased mental health services to students.


This year’s camp-out takes place on March 29 at 7 p.m. at the Wave, the restaurant at the university community centre It will be begin with performances by The B-Club, Del, Fox and Hound, and Fat Chance. Berlet’s fraternity members plan to spend the night sleeping outside on a patio Western students call “the concrete beach.”


For more information, visit the Facebook page Austen Berlet Campout for Mental Health. IF YOU NEED HELP Contact the Canadian Mental Health Association Reach Out program, a 24/7 service for people experiencing mental health concerns, addictions or crisis, at 519-433-2023, toll free 1-866-933-2023, or online at


Full Article can be found in the Stratford Beacon Herald.

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