Student death sparks dialogue

By Callie Jennings – cjenning@unca.edu – Staff Writer | Nov. 5, 2014 |

Nick Igou, junior at UNC Asheville, died the weekend of Oct. 24 in his off campus apartment.

“I met Nick at the beginning of my newswriting class, so only a few months, but in that time he proved himself to be insightful, analytical and just a sweet kid,” said Brandon Bouchillon, visiting assistant professor from Tyler, Texas.

Those who had the pleasure to know Igou, like Bouchillon, knew him as respectful, prompt and always ready to learn.

“We wore the same glasses. We built on that. We had shared experiences. He was a great student and I know I only knew him for a few months, but it’s a big shame to the whole world,” Bouchillon said.

Bouchillon gave an assignment to his class: pick a broad national trend and localize it to UNCA, then humanize it using local sources.

Igou made the choice to write his paper on depression on college campuses and how it can go undetected, according to his peers.

The story focused on emotional disorders and depression in the United States. Igou spoke to people on campus who dealt with these problems and how to find ways to fix these issues.

Depression on college campuses is very common, according to university officials.

“Depression is a result of stress. The college environment is stressful in a variety of ways. If you look at the factors that impact the performance of college students, stress is the number one thing and it has been for years. Depression is pretty prevalent on college campuses and the ages 18 to 24 are when a lot of mental health issues come out,” said Jay Cutspec, director of health and counseling.

Cutspec said he did not know Igou, although he did meet him when Igou came to interview Cutspec for Bouchillon’s class assignment.

“It’s interesting. Depression can be linked with suicide, but suicide has been studied for decades and we still don’t know a lot about it. Despite years and years of research we don’t know why some people commit suicide and others don’t. We know there are risk factors that are linked with it, like mood disorders and depression would be one of those indicators. Substance abuse could also be one,” Cutspec said.

Depression, according to Cutspec, is associated with time.

“For someone who is facing a depressive episode or have a depression diagnosis, those are people who have been depressed for a long period of time. You also need to look at their behavior changes, sleeping habits, weight gain or weight loss and if you notice these abnormalities for a long period of time, I think the noted time frame is two weeks, then you should look into it,” Cutspec said.

After a student death, outreach services like the counseling center are put into action, but generally students like to deal with their emotions in their own way, said Cutspec.

“I had a class or two with Nick my first year,” said Fred Render, a freshman. “He never seemed like the person to be dealing with anything like this, I guess you never really know and honestly, we still don’t really know. I guess I wasn’t that close to him. Overall, it’s just awful news, but you’re never alone.”

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