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Swimmer's death: 20-year-old suicide has school boost its mental health program

Indoor swimming pool image, clear waters
Indoor swimming pool image, clear waters
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

A swimmer’s death is topping news searches this evening after the University of Missouri has decided to boost its mental health programs for students in light of a young woman from Toronto committing suicide. It was 20-year-old Sasha Menu Courey who took her own life as a former student of the school; she had attended the college on a swimming scholarship. Yahoo! News reports this Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, that “changes” are going to be made in the near future in the hopes of preventing such a tragedy from happening again. The president of the school addressed the difficult loss in an open statement this afternoon.

The swimmer’s death occurred back in June of 2011. Sasha Menu Courey, age 20, was in a Boston psychiatric hospital only weeks after being formally diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Only two months prior to that, Menu Courey attempted a previous suicide attempt. Her second attempt at taking her life was tragically completed.

Menu Courey’s parents, Mike and Lynn, have decided to pour all of their heartbreak at the loss of their daughter into a mental health foundation in the young woman’s memory. Since their child’s death, the devastated parents are also holding the University of Missouri partially responsible for her suicide.

According to the press release on the swimmer’s death, 20-year-old Sasha said that she had been raped by a potential three football players back in 2010. However, neither the school nor the athletics program failed to adequately examine Sasha’s case, and now her parents want justice for her memory. They hope the incident will encourage the school to save the lives of future victims.

"We just want to make sure that changes are made," her father, Mike, noted in a recent statement. "We need more than Band-Aids. We need a transformation."

University of Missouri officials have claimed that they didn’t even know about the alleged rape until after Courey committed suicide well over a year letter. School authorities have also defended themselves from the Menu Courey parents’ accusations, citing that their lack of detailed knowledge about the sexual assault, as well as no particular victims to interview, prevented them from taking action even had they known.

It was the University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe who provided a public statement about the young swimmer's death this morning, adding that his own daughter is a first-year college athlete, so he can only imagine the pain of the Menu Courey family since the 20-year-old’s loss.

"One of our students is dead," he said. "And I don't want to feel that anymore."

“The school said in a statement Tuesday that a 2012 Columbia Daily Tribune article about Menu Courey's suicide briefly alluded to the alleged assault, but didn't meet the legal standard that the school ‘reasonably should know about student-on-student harassment that creates a hostile environment.’"

Since then, concluded the report, the University of Missouri has taken “extensive” efforts to help reduce incidents of sexual violence, and also worked to boost their mental health programs and services to students. The school acknowledges that services were available at the time Sasha Menu Courey attended school, but they may not have been well provided for the troubled young woman and former swimmer back then.

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