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JMU cancels classes Tuesday to focus on mental health after two campus deaths

JMU Vigil Charlotte Matherly Breeze.jpg
JMU Vigil Charlotte Matherly Breeze 2.jpg
Posted at 6:47 PM, Feb 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-09 03:26:00-05

HARRISONBURG, Va. — Classes were canceled at James Madison University (JMU) on Tuesday to give students and staff time to process two deaths that happened on the school's campus this past week, according to a note from their president posted to their website.

Last week, a student died on campus. JMU did not provide any details surrounding the student's death.

Virginia State Police said around 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 31, a man was found dead in the woods in the 700 block of University Boulevard in Harrisonburg. State Police said the death does not seem to be suspicious.

Monday afternoon, another individual— who JMU believes was not a student, faculty or staff member — also died on their campus at the Grace Street Parking Deck.

Troopers said this death also does not seem to be suspicious.

The JMU community was already feeling the wave of mourning from the tragic deaths of two Bridgewater College officers last week, with the campuses standing only seven miles apart from each other.

JMU will host a joint funeral service for the two slain officers on Wednesday at 11 a.m. The service will be open to the public.

According to JMU's student newspaper, "The Breeze," nearly a thousand members of the JMU community gathered on the Quad Monday night for a candlelight ceremony where students and faculty spoke about the importance of mental health resources on the campus.

JMU President Jonathan Alger spoke at the vigil, said to The Breeze. He also sent an email to students on Monday following the second campus death with a list of resources they could use for support, as well as information about when students could meet with counseling professionals on Tuesday.

His email read:

These difficult moments can often lead to overwhelming feelings and questions. Please know that you are a valued member of the JMU community and we care deeply about each of you. I encourage you to support each other, to check in on your friends and colleagues, and to seek additional support if you feel you may need it. We are planning additional ways to come together as a community in support, solidarity and hope in the days and weeks to come.

The following were listed as support resources for JMU students:

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