With four suicides in 13 months, and new details about goalie Katie Meyer’s circumstances that don’t make the school look good, Stanford promises to beef up mental health resources for students.
When star Stanford goalkeeper Katie Meyer was found dead in her dorm room Tuesday of last week, there were immediately unverifiable reports flying around social media that her death was a suicide. Which seemed odd, as Meyer was a classic “everything to live for” 22-year-old. The above image shows the game where she won Stanford the 2019 national championship with two spectacular saves on penalty kicks; she almost certainly had a pro soccer career ahead of her, and possibly even Olympics appearances.
But two days later, the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner's Office ruled that Meyer’s death was indeed “self-inflicted.”
And today’s Chronicle reports on a pretty significant suicide rate among Stanford students. “Last February, Stanford said medical student Rose Wong was found dead by suicide in an on-campus residence,” the Chron points out. “Six months later, engineering student Jacob Meisel was killed in Palo Alto after being struck by a train in what the Santa Clara County coroner ruled a suicide. This year, in late January, law student Dylan Simmons was found dead in an on-campus residence."
So that’s four suicides in 13 months. Doing some quick math, the national suicide rate is 13.9 per 100,000 people. Stanford has just over 15,000 students, so applying the same formula, Stanford a rate of 26.3 suicides per 100,000 people. Yes, Stanford University has a much higher suicide rate than the national average.
And there’s new information about Meyer’s circumstances that casts an unflattering light on the university. Meyer’s parents went on the Today show Friday and revealed that their daughter was facing some sort of disciplinary action from the university.
"Katie, being Katie, was defending a teammate on campus over an incident and the repercussions of her defending that teammate [possibly led to the disciplinary action]," her father Steven Meyer said on the show.
"We have not seen that email yet," her mother Gina Meyer told Today. "She had been getting letters for a couple months. This letter was kind of the final letter that there was going to be a trial or some kind of something. This is the only thing that we can come up with that triggered something."
The university acknowledged the growing problem in a statement reprinted by the Chronicle, saying they have “begun recruitment for additional permanent clinical counseling and therapy positions,” and are “convening experts to consider what measures would be helpful beyond clinical support.”
Meyer’s life seemed like a dream come true to outsiders, but we don’t know and can’t imagine the internal stresses and pressures that may have come with it. It could be that Stanford University officials don’t know and can’t imagine that either.
If you are in crisis, text "BAY" to 741741 for free, 24/7, confidential crisis support from Crisis Text Line. And if you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, you or they should call the San Francisco Suicide Prevention crisis line at 415-781-0500.
If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide: do not leave the person alone; remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt; and call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.
Related: Stanford Women's Soccer Star Goalie Found Dead in Dorm Room, Had Been on 2019 National Championship Team [SFist]
Image: SAN JOSE, CA - DECEMBER 8: Stanford Cardinal goalkeeper Katie Meyer #19 during a game between UNC and Stanford Soccer W at Avaya Stadium on December 8, 2019 in San Jose, California. (Photo by John Todd/ISI Photos/Getty Images).