Justin Welch, clerk of the University Student Court and friend of Ian J. Elliott, told the crowd at the campus vigil remembering Elliott’s life that the student leader “taught me to work hard and play hard; when you punch out, you punch out and live life.”
The vigil was held Oct. 23 in the Fireside Lounge of the Union at UWM. Family and Friends gathered to bid farewell to Elliott while sharing some of their most memorable experiences.
Michael Lovell, Chancellor of UWM joined those in remembering the student, saying, “Ian lived his life in service to others, he gave selfless of his time and talent to the community.”
Tariq Almagri, a senior at UWM and roommate of Elliott said, “The last hours I spent with Ian were exactly how I want to remember him: shirtless, listening to techno and doing the robot (a dance move) in our living room.”
Elliott worked in the mailroom at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s school of education since 2010. He was pursuing a degree in Developmental Economics and international Development before his sudden passing a few days before the vigil. Media Milwaukee has obtained the cause of death but is choosing to withhold the specific details to protect the family’s privacy. Elliott died Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013. He was 22-years-old.
At any rate, the vigil focused on Elliott’s accomplishments in life not his too-soon death.
Maggie Iken, a senior at UWM and close friend of the victim said, “He’s the only person who could help me understand international economics in a way that made sense to me.”
While working on his degree, he served in the United States Navy and was the Vice-Chair of the Union Policy Board and Senate Oversight and Rules Committee Chair from 2012 to 2013.
Nik Rettinger, Chairperson of the Union Policy Board said, “I never seen someone so motivated, he took on many leadership positions not because he wanted a title, but because he cared.”
Elliott’s pictures appeared on a projector, while family and friends lit candles and stood at the podium to remember their relationship with Elliot and his contributions to UWM.
Iken described one of her favorite moments as a time when she traveled with Elliot to New York City. Iken said, “One time we went to New York and I didn’t go out for whatever reason. He knew how much I loved pugs, so he texted me a picture of a shirt with a pug on it and asked me what size.”
The UWM community-which has 30,000 students enrolled-struggle to make sense of what happened the morning of his death. As peers describe Elliot’s character, no one acknowledges any warning signs or behaviors that would lead
them to believe the victim was unhappy.
When it comes to College-aged youth between the ages of 10-24, suicide is the second leading cause of death,” according to the Parent Resource Program. More students die from suicide than those of heart disease, car accidents, cancer, strokes and STD’s.
In Wisconsin, there were 12.6 suicides per 100,000 people from 2011 to 2012. In 2010, 38, 364 deaths occurred in the U.S. according to the national Institute for Mental Health. Men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women citing depression as the common influence.
“I’m really going to miss him and that goofy smile he gave me whenever I did something stupid or outrageous and for those of us who know me, I got that smile everyday,” said Almagri.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).