Disclaimer: This staff editorial contains mentions of death and suicide and may be triggering to some readers. Please use caution before reading.
If you or someone you know needs help, local help is available through campus police (724-738-3333), the counseling center (724-738-2034) and student support (724-738-2121). Other resources include the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) and the Crisis Text Line (text “HOME” to 741741).
Another premature loss of life has shaken the Slippery Rock community, and this time, The Rocket staff has been directly affected.
On July 28, Adam Zook, 21, died by suicide at his off-campus residence in the early hours of the morning. Adam was set to take over as The Rocket’s editor-in-chief for his senior year. After graduating from Tyrone Area High School in 2016, he began attending SRU and was set to graduate this spring.
While The Rocket staff grieves the heartbreaking loss of an unrivaled leader and writer, our hearts truly ache over the loss of an even better man and friend. Adam’s impact on each and every member of this staff will be felt throughout the entire school year and years beyond.
The world of college journalism lost one of its brightest and most promising members, but his memory will live on through The Rocket for a lifetime.
Adam did not leave The Rocket without a vision, and his ideas and innovations will be implemented upon the newspaper he loved most in the world. The Rocket staff will continue to produce the content Adam intended and strive to exceed even his own expectations.
As a journalist, Adam placed a great value on the ability of everyone having a way for their voices to be heard. As a staff, we could not agree more in believing that everyone should have that right, and we will continue to provide a platform for those with opinions and ideas to share.
A way in which Adam hoped to spread openness and communication stemmed from his desire to use The Rocket not just to tell the news but to tell stories. His story will continue to inspire change, a change in which we hope to be the leaders.
Though the days have been dark, and a lot of days will continue to be dark in the times ahead, The Rocket staff has banded together to stand as one united figure in the face of adversity. If there is a light to be seen at the end of this dark tunnel, it’s the bonds that have been forged and strengthened through this nightmarish ordeal.
We know that Adam would want us to keep moving forward and remember all of the happy moments, laughs and celebrations we shared as a Rocket family.
While we will continue to mourn and miss our dear friend and leader, our excitement to continue to evolve and grow as a newspaper has not been dampened.
After all, there are brighter days ahead.
Hannah Shumsky, the former news editor, will step up and into the editor-in-chief role. With Hannah’s former position now vacant, we look forward to the challenge of filling three positions with capable and eager students.
News editor, assistant news editor and assistant photo editor candidates have been interviewed over the course of this week, with three new members joining the staff next week.
A new year brings new opportunities and experiences that make what we do as a staff so rewarding and worthwhile. While we have lost our heart and soul, Adam’s presence will continue to inspire the entire staff.
A common saying when dealing with a difficult time in life states, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” At this point in time, that saying could not ring truer.
With the storm now in the rearview mirror and the darkest days already past, sunlight can be seen through the clouds. There are brighter days ahead, of that we are sure.
Even though Adam is not with us physically any longer, he will always be our sunshine.
However, Adam’s death is not the only tragedy to strike Slippery Rock: another two students died by suicide within the past year. Enough is enough, and it is time for The Rocket and the Slippery Rock community to address this nationwide epidemic in a renewed and critical light.
There is no clear-cut solution in which we will be able to wave a magic wand and instantly solve the problem. It is not that simple, but that does not mean that there is nothing we can do.
The first steps lie in acknowledging the problem, recognizing that no one should do this alone and starting to search for a solution, together.
The Rocket is dedicated to providing an atmosphere of love, acceptance and belonging; a place where everyone feels like they are able to seek help if they need it. The Rocket office in Eisenberg will always be a place where those who need help will receive it. You are not alone, and you never will be.
We beg our friends, family and community to join us in the search for a solution. For The Rocket, this means we will commit ourselves to covering the state of mental health at Slippery Rock. We will serve as a forum for students, faculty and community members to share their own stories, all while we aim to hold Slippery Rock University accountable for continuing to provide support services to students and investigate new opportunities to support students.
While we wish we knew a solution to combat the mental health crisis on this campus, the reality is that no one does, but that does not mean that we cannot figure it out together.
Only together will we truly be able to make a difference. Of course, making sure your friends and family know you love and care for them is important, but that effort must be extended to those in your classes, your extracurriculars and people you generally would not associate with.
Building a culture of love and acceptance for all will not immediately fix this problem, but it is a start.
We owe it to ourselves, and to the ones we have lost, to make sure no friends and family ever have to feel this kind of pain again.