Brent Finnegan -- July 7th, 2010
Last October, news of Austin Frazier’s untimely death spread through the Harrisonburg community. In the wake of his suicide, Austin’s parents, Bibb and Dolly Frazier, set up the Austin Frazier Memorial, “a group dedicated to comforting the family and friends of Austin Frazier. And, to help build awareness of the life threatening risk of Bipolar Disorder and depression.”
Kate Elizabeth Queram reports in today’s Daily News Record that the memorial fund is helping to start a new voluntary program at EMU to help prevent suicides and help students cope with depression.
[Money raised through the memorial fund and from the Fraziers themselves] will help launch a program at Eastern Mennonite University designed to make the transition to college life easier for students suffering from mood disorders, such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.
Called “CoachLink,” the program will pair undergraduates with “coaches” – second-year graduate students enrolled in EMU’s master of counseling program . . . Frazier said he chose EMU after the Mennonite community reached out to his family following Austin’s death [Austin was a student at JMU]. The campus’ size, he added, is ideally suited to the program . . .
The hope, according to Frazier, is to encourage students to reach out for help in time to prevent them from feeling disconnected, withdrawing from school or ultimately succumbing to their disorders. Frazier said he felt that if Austin – a junior at James Madison University when he died – had access to a program like CoachLink, his outcome could have been different.
The CoachLink program will begin this fall and is expected to run at least three years.