DENTON, Texas - A University of North Texas student who lost a friend to suicide wanted to spread the word about mental health resources available to students in crisis.
So he pushed to get mental health resources included on the back of UNT ID cards, and administrators listened.
"There were no hotlines, there wasn't even, like, a please reach out to the counseling service if in need,” Derek Foshee said. “I feel like Ryan is looking down and is like, nice.”
Ryan Aleksandrowicz, who was a sophomore at Texas A&M, committed suicide in 2017.
He was Foshee's best friend. They shared common struggles.
"He was the one, he'd had depression with me, he had anxiety with me, struggles through life. It really affected me. We felt the same way a lot of times," Foshee said.
Through Foshee’s grief came a goal. As a member of the student government association, he began to lobby UNT administrators to add mental health crisis phone numbers to the IDs.
"As much as it’s been horrible, and I wish it didn't happen of course, but it’s helped me help other people. I've had people on Twitter and Instagram reach out and say, ‘Hey, thank you so much for fighting for this," Foshee added.
"We also saw it as a best practice and we wanted to launch it as soon as we could to be able to provide more resources for students," said Teresa McKinney, assistant vice president for student affairs.
The university says the local and national hotline information plays companion to a variety of campus related counseling and other mental health resources.
Foshee also hopes it encourages all students to be alert and check on anyone they suspect is struggling mentally.
“There are some very easy signs you can spot in people when stuff is going wrong,” Foshee said. “Eye contact is one I've learned. A lot of the time they're not going to want to talk to people, so they just look down. I was that kid. I was that kid for a year after Ryan.” Foshee said. “We've got to do more about that I feel, and this is a huge step forward I feel."