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Counseling offers services for those affected by students’ deaths

October 5, 2012

Two UW-River Falls students have died during the 2012 school year.

These losses not only affect the former student’s families, but also UWRF as a campus.

Tiffany Langteau was preparing for her last year of college when she was killed in an automobile accident south of Medford, Wis.

Her family held a funeral for her, and her friends at UWRF organized a candlelight vigil in her memory.

Jordan Costello was starting her first few weeks at UWRF after graduating from Hudson High School last spring. She was found dead at her home after committing suicide.

Her family held a funeral for her in September.

The fact that these two girls died at an age when most are starting their adult lives, Langteau at age 21 and Costello at age 18, impacts their peers.

“It’s sad for me that such a young life would be lost and that she was just starting on campus. Such a potential is not there anymore,” said Emily Kladerman, a junior at UWRF.

Even for students who did not know either of the women personally, there still is an effect. Chelsea Kennedy, a junior, is just one example.

“None of my friends knew them, but it is still a really sad thing. It makes you really upset because it’s people our age,” said Kennedy, adding that it was not something that could be ignored. “It’s so unexpected and sad that life was cut short.”

Jennifer Elsesser, a personal counselor on campus, said that other students, like Kennedy, feel the same kind of emotions.

“Some of it effects them emotionally right away where they may exhibit to be more tearful or be more upset. Then there are other students who may not exhibit their emotions, so it’s really important not to judge,” said Elseser.

Students who did not know either of the women personally can also sometimes have similar grief to those who did.

“Even though somebody might not have a really strong relationship with someone who has passed away, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect them. It can bring up emotions of losses that they’ve had in the past so it can seem just as traumatic to them as it would somebody else that might have been closer to the victim,” said Elsesser.

Klanderman also mentioned that even if it does not affect someone personally, it is important to be there for peers who are feeling these emotions.

“It’s the trickledown effect where you know someone who knew her and to help support them is important,” Klanderman said.

Last year there was one death in the residence halls, along with the year prior. Elsesser describes two deaths on the UWRF campus as “rare.”

“We’re here as a resource,” said Elsesser.

UWRF has personal counselors available, free of charge to students.

“We have a lot of students that come in who are concerned about someone else — sometimes they’ll even bring in that friend or family member that they’re concerned about,” Elsesser said.