A BYU student was critically injured when she fell from the fourth floor of the Tanner Building on Monday, Dec. 3.
The university confirmed later in the day the incident was an attempted suicide.
BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said the “tragic incident” happened around 9 a.m. She said the student was taken to Utah Valley Hospital. About 11 a.m., the university cancelled all classes in the building and closed the building.
Academic Vice President James Rasband sent an email to faculty members shortly before 2 p.m. “I write to ask that you be understanding and sensitive to students impacted by this tragedy, particularly those who witnessed the incident,” he wrote.
BYU senior Lauren Simpson was in class in the Tanner Building when the incident occurred.
According to Simpson, once the emergency medical technicians arrived, they told Simpson’s class to tell the other classrooms on the floor to stay in class for an extra 15 minutes.
Simpson said she feels disappointed the Tanner Building wasn’t shut down immediately following the accident.
The university sent out a campus-wide email at 11 a.m. informing campus of the incident, expressing the aid of campus counselors and detailing the building’s closure and class cancellations. Walk-in and crisis counselors will be available for students Tuesday, Dec. 4, and Wednesday, Dec. 5, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Counseling and Psychological Services. Students can also call campus police and ask to speak with the on-call counselor.
Unknown is how many people in the building saw or heard the student fall.
“It’s shocking to me that even 30 minutes after the accident that people were still looking from every floor,” Simpson said.
Other students also expressed angst on social media about the building remaining open for so long.
Simpson said it will be difficult for her to return to the classroom where she heard the incident for the rest of the semester. “Suddenly, we’re facing this trauma. I don’t think people know how to handle it.”
BYU MBA student Derrik Adams was also in the Tanner Building when the incident occurred.
“We didn’t know for sure what happened until someone came in and told us,” Adams said. “At the moment, they’ve got police asking people to just not go to the atrium and walk quickly across the bridges, but they haven’t announced anything.”
BYU student Nicole Tenney said she got out of class at about 9:15 a.m. and was walking to the Tanner Building auditorium when she saw paramedics, firefighters and policemen in the atrium.
“It was just really solemn,” she said. “People were just kind of really surprised, and then other people were just asking what happened. But nobody really knew anything.”
This morning a tragic incident occurred in the Tanner Building involving one of our students.
Help is available to our campus community. Counselors are available at 750 Tanner Building and at the Counseling Center at 1500 Wilkinson Student Center.
— BYU (@BYU) December 3, 2018
“There’s been some very positive things said on social media about reaching out to one another and listening to one another,” Jenkins said. “If you have a friend who needs someone to talk to, certainly, this is the time to lend a listening ear. And if you yourself are feeling like you need help or need someone to talk to, we encourage our students to go to the Wilkinson Student Center.”
Counseling resources are available on campus for students. BYU Counseling and Psychological Services (1500 WSC) offers walk-in services to students until 4:15 p.m. each day. After hours, BYU Counseling has a staff member on-call that can be reached by calling University Police at 801-422-2222.
Editor’s note: The Daily Universe strives to follow the ethical guidelines outlined by the Society of Professional Journalists, which includes reporting on suicides or attempted suicides only when the incident involves a public person or takes place in a public place. Our staff sends its condolences to the student, her family and friends, witnesses, fellow students, first responders, professors, mentors and university officials working to deal with an event that touches the entire BYU community.