ROANOKE, Va, – The James Madison University and softball community are still reeling over the death of JMU softball player, Lauren Bernett.
Monday, university leaders shared the impact Lauren’s life had on the JMU community.
They say Lauren is being remembered as a star student-athlete.
Her death is also shedding a light on mental health concerns among student-athletes and people everywhere, just as mental health awareness month begins.
“What we have seen over the last decade is a significant increase in mental health concerns. Lots more students coming to college with mental health concerns,” said JMU’s vice president of student affairs, Dr. Tim Miller.
Experts like Sheila Lythgoe with Blue Ridge Behavioral Health in Roanoke say people should educate themselves on warning signs.
“I think the big thing is changes in behavior, sleep patterns, eating habits. Are they isolating? Are they withdrawing from friends and family? Is it affecting their work,” she said.
Blue Ridge Behavioral Health offers training and other tools like gun and medication locks in hopes of preventing suicide.
“I think for everybody, student-athletes and people of all walks of life, it can affect everybody. We all have mental health that needs to be taken care of,” said Lythgoe.
Taking care of students’ mental health is and has been a top priority, according to JMU officials.
This is why the softball team announced the cancelation of the remainder of their season.
“This loss is going to be something that is going to be with us for a long time,” said JMU’s director of athletics, Jeff Bourne.