EDITORIAL: You aren’t alone

Editorial Board

On Oct. 30, 2021, Jason Aguilar, an Eastern track athlete, took his own life on campus.

While we often provide news coverage of one-year anniversaries like the opening of the food pantry and the Doug DiBianco Floor, we at the News felt it wasn’t appropriate to contribute a story covering such a sensitive topic in fear of reopening a still-fresh wound.

However, the timeline of grief varies between individuals. 

These thoughts can stick with you anywhere from a few months, to a few years, to a lifetime. 

We wanted to speak out and remind those struggling they aren’t alone. Serious feelings and conversations around mental health should not be silenced. 

Eastern is a small campus, a small community. Losing Jason impacted all of us in a tsunami-sized ripple effect across campus, which we still feel today.

Several members who are currently on the editorial board helped with the coverage surrounding Jason’s death from start to finish.

A member of the board was on-scene when authorities responded, and another reached out to friends and teammates to learn more about Jason in the days after his death. Others attended his memorial service. 

Those involved in the coverage found they were struggling and in need of help. Even on the professional level, mental health support for journalists who cover tough topics has only begun to be discussed. 

Many staff members even spoke to a counselor together in our newsroom as they admitted outside help was needed. 

When walking on campus, when covering events, eating in the dining halls and sitting in the newsroom late at night, we still think of Jason during our day-to-day lives.

Beyond that, the stories and feelings those close to Jason shared with us still affect our coverage. Even more than before, we’re dedicated to empathetic coverage of our local community and to highlighting individuals who may not always be in the spotlight.

Those events affected our staff deeply, as well as the rest of Eastern’s campus. We would not be writing about this again if we did not feel it was important.

If you still think of Jason, you are not alone. We are not alone.

We strongly encourage those who feel as if they are having mental difficulties not to hesitate and reach out to friends, family, on and off-campus resources and the proper authorities. The Counseling Clinic can be reached at 217-581-3414 and a 24-hour crisis hotline can be reached at (866) 567-2400. If you or someone you know have thoughts of suicide we encourage you to call 988.

Even though we are not covering this topic in the “News” section or publicly talking about it, his memory still affects how we think and write about certain topics.

The fear of what ifs, the questions that linger, this was not and never will be just news to us. The memories of what happened and afterwards will stay with us, but so will the amazing stories shared about Jason from friends and family.

To his family and friends, we are sorry you lost someone such as Jason all too soon. 

There is never a good time to lose someone you care about, but there is never a bad time to celebrate the lives of those you have lost.


The editorial board can be reached at 581-2812 or via [email protected].