Suicide by police

Kade Davis

On the evening of Sept. 16, Scout Schultz created a disruption with a multi-tool knife on the Georgia Tech campus. When the police arrived, Schultz pleaded with one of them to shoot and kill Schultz; one officer ultimately complied. From there, Georgia Tech students protested, and this became yet another example of civil unrest in response to police brutality.

Scout Schultz was a 21-year-old computer science major at Georgia Tech and the president of the school’s Pride Alliance. Schultz identified as bisexual, non-binary and intersex; Schultz preferred the use of “they” and “them” instead of the pronouns “him” or “her.”

Schultz also had a history of depression, anxiety and had attempted suicide in the past. The police officer’s unnecessary use of lethal force ultimately led to the death of Schultz, but the situation could have been avoided.

Mental health is a significant issue that has gradually received more attention recently, but the issue is still not addressed appropriately. In addition, the ills of police violence have yet to find a resolution. How should police react to the mentally ill—when a person asks to die, should the police comply?

What if a situation like this had occurred on the UTSA campus? Would campus police have responded in the same way? I would like to think a situation like this would be handled in a more appropriate way, but one can never be 100 percent sure.

Mental health is at its greatest awareness yet, but it is still not at the level of awareness it should be. Once considered taboo, people are increasingly becoming associated with the symptoms and effects of mental illness, particularly severe depression. Nearly 73 percent of students living with a mental illness have experienced a mental health crisis on campus, but over 30 percent of these students have stated that their particular college did not know about it.

No matter the differing approaches to enforcing the law, there are aspects in need of improvement. If this kind of instance occurs again, the person causing a disruption can be dealt with in a way that doesn’t include death.

But we should ultimately learn to address the needs of the mentally ill in order to prevent situations like this from occurring in the first place. In a time when hate and discrimination are still prevalent, and our leaders are not doing much to alleviate this hate, love and understanding are needed now more than ever.

Ensuring that everyone you know is doing well and promoting healthy relationships with others is what is important. Exclusion and hatred will only perpetuate mental health issues, and more volatile situations are expected from those suffering from mental illnesses.

Imagine if this incident would have occurred on our campus. We are ALL Roadrunners, so there is no room for making people feel unimportant, unwanted or unloved. We should reinforce love and provide a welcoming environment for all.