January 1, 2021

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

It is with profound sorrow that I write to relay the news that Hans Horst-Martz, from the Class of 2021, died Wednesday while at home on winter break. His family has asked us to share with you that the cause of death was suicide and they want you to know that there are many resources, described below, for those who may be struggling. 

This is an unimaginable loss for our community. My heart goes out to Hans’s mother and father, Jenny Anne and Galen, his wonderful sister Emma ’18, and everyone who knew and loved him.

Hans was a very special person. From the moment he arrived on campus, he showed himself to be a deeply committed, creative, and engaged scholar who brought energy and conviction to every aspect of his life and work. A double major in Botany and Environmental Studies, he lived out his passion for environmental justice not just through courses but also through his work as a fellow in our Office of Sustainability; through two summers of independent botany research; and through extended studies of regenerative farming and community agriculture in Australia, in western Vermont, and right here on campus in our Sprout garden. But Hans was equally passionate about building community, a commitment that was as evident in his service to the Student Government Association as it was in his leadership on our Ultimate Frisbee team. In all these ways, he enriched our College, in the words of one of his professors, Chad Jones, “as an amazing student and an amazing friend.” We mourn the loss of this brilliant and gifted young life, and convey our deepest condolences to Hans’s family, his faculty and staff mentors, his closest friends, and to all those whose lives he touched over the past four years.

This is especially painful news to share on the first day of a new year, during a time when we are separated from one another over an extended winter break. Hans’s family has expressed their wish to have a service to remember him later in the spring — when warmer weather resumes and it is safe to gather in person — in the Sprout garden or in the Arboretum or in one of the places he loved. In the days to come, our chaplains will also be planning a special PAUSE event in his honor. You will receive more information about that soon.  

Most important, though, Hans’s family would like those of you who are grieving or who may be struggling with depression to know that there are people you can turn to. Students who are on campus and need immediate support should call Campus Safety at 860-439-2222, and they will, in turn, connect you with our on-call Student Life staff. Any students needing urgent help may also reach an off-site licensed professional clinician at no cost, in two different ways:

  • Counseling After Hours: Call the Student Counseling Services phone number (860-439-4587) and press option 2 or 3. This is a telephone-based mental health service that is available to all students in need of access to mental health support when Student Counseling Services is not open. This service provides students with access to an off-site counselor who will provide support during any evening, weekend, or break.

  • My SSP (Student Support Program): Download the free My SSP App, available on the App Store or Google Play. Through the app, you can call or chat with a Student Support Counselor 24/7 in real-time or schedule a telephone or video session that fits your schedule. My SSP provides support in the event of a personal crisis and also connects students with providers, offering both short and long-term counseling. You may also call My SSP directly at 866-743-7732 (or from outside North America at 001-416-380-6578). The My SSP app offers a digital library of articles and videos that you may find helpful.

Connecticut College counselors will also make themselves available tomorrow (Saturday, Jan. 2) to speak with students from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Please email scs@conncoll.edu for an appointment. 

Finally, we offer the following guidance for anyone experiencing an emergency: 

  • Off-campus students should call their local emergency services at 911 or the appropriate emergency resource number for their location.

  • Those on campus may also request an emergency evaluation with Southeastern Mental Health Authority (SMHA). SMHA Main Phone: 860-859-4500

  • You may text the 24-hour Crisis Text Line: 860-886-9302 

  • You may also call the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services 24-hour hotline: 800-563-4086

  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a hotline for individuals experiencing crisis or for those looking to help someone else in crisis. Call 1-800-273-8255 to speak with a certified listener.

Please know that our chaplains and class deans are mobilized to support any student who needs to talk now or at any time during the break. And for those on campus who wish to engage in quiet reflection, Harkness Chapel will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the next several days. Finally, all College employees should remember that they may speak to professional counselors any time of the day or night through the HigherEd Employee Assistance Program by calling 800-252-4555. Additional resources can be found at www.HigherEdEAP.com.  

Hans was a person of enormous talent, wisdom, and compassion and his death is a terrible blow. His family asks everyone in our community to take special care with one other by taking the time to ask about the wellbeing of students and friends, so people know they are not alone, that they have your love and support. This will be the first and most appropriate way to honor Hans’s life. 

With empathy,

Katherine Bergeron

Katherine Bergeron