UNC, family hope others learn from student's suicide

Posted August 9, 2010 6:08 p.m. EDT
Updated August 9, 2010 7:58 p.m. EDT

— The death of a law student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill last April prompted his family to team up with the university to help provide awareness about suicide prevention for other young adults.

Eric Bryant, 25, killed himself in his on-campus apartment. Family members said Bryant had been depressed since the death of his father, two years earlier.

“To the average observer, you wouldn't notice it,” said his uncle, Barry Bryant. “He carried on in life. He was very functional in school.”

The law school and Eric Bryant’s family saw a need for education about suicide – the third-leading cause of death among those between ages 15 and 24. They established an on-campus suicide education group called "Active Minds."

“We want to educate our students on signs and what to look for,” said Kelly Podger Smith, assistant dean of student services.

"It's very effective when we have our students looking out for one another and helping each other."

“We want to create an atmosphere, especially on campus, where kids feel comfortable sharing and discussing vulnerable issues like being depressed or being lonely or being sad,” Barry Bryant said.

Podger Smith added, “Depression or anxiety -- those are things people don't share, but we want to create an environment where everybody's comfortable seeking help.”

To raise money for “Active Minds,” Eric Bryant’s family will hold a memorial golf tournament Aug. 16 at Wildwood Green Golf Club.

“We're incredibly proud of all of Eric's accomplishments in life, even though he only lived 25 years,” Barry Bryant said. “It (his life) should be remembered for all of his positive accomplishments.”