There’s not a lot to say.

Some of us knew Demitri Allison. Some of us didn’t. But we’re all mourning the loss of a member of our Elon University community. More than that, we’re all mourning the loss of someone we could have known.

Allison was a son, friend, teammate and classmate. He was the person you passed on the sidewalk on the way to class or the student you stood in line with in Lakeside Dining Hall. Whether you knew him well or not, he’s touched all our lives.

And he should make you think.

We don’t know what led to Allison’s death. But this is the second death of a student to rock our community in the last year. That’s two too many.

Allison and Trent Stetler, whose January 2015 death was ruled a suicide by the Burlington Police Department, are dearly missed, and their sudden absences have left us all breathless. But let’s make them the last. We shouldn’t be mourning such bright and promising young men. We shouldn’t be mourning people who are so young.

We all know someone who is struggling against something. And that’s OK. It’s OK to not be OK. Not being OK can mean having anxiety, suffering from depression or facing ghosts from the past. It can mean none of these. But we’re all dealing with something. So be gentle. Be kind. Care for others, in big ways and small.

There’s a stigma in our culture — and especially in college culture — that there’s something wrong with not being OK, that we have to be fun-loving, upbeat and cheerful all the time. 

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 60 percent of adults with mental illnesses didn’t receive treatment in the last year, and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 35.2 percent of adults aged 18-25 didn’t seek mental health care because of issues related to stigma.

It’s time to stop that. It’s time to accept that every day isn’t great. It’s time to validate all our moods and feelings, even the ones that bring us down.

Elon offers various services for those of us who need someone to talk to. We’re all struggling with different things, so who you choose to talk to is your choice. But please, talk. Speak up. Ask for help, if not for yourself, for the people who care about you.

At the same time, be willing to listen. Listen to your friends, your roommates and your classmates. A little compassion and an open ear can do a lot, and it’s something we can all do.


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