How a funeral home is looking to fight suicides

By Melissa Lovato, CNN • Updated 26th December 2020 (CNN) — Michael Hutchence, of INXS fame, died in November 1997 of a drug overdose. He was 40. Hundreds of thousands of mourners gathered for…

How a funeral home is looking to fight suicides

By Melissa Lovato, CNN • Updated 26th December 2020

(CNN) — Michael Hutchence, of INXS fame, died in November 1997 of a drug overdose. He was 40.

Hundreds of thousands of mourners gathered for his funeral. The singer’s body was brought to his hometown of Sydney, Australia. A dozen men in dark sunglasses stood at attention, followed by a military band that played the Australian national anthem. As mourners gathered at the church for his service, there was a light rain.

“We might have lost INXS frontman Michael Hutchence today, but the deceased has not lost his dignity,” the Australian public broadcaster quoted one unidentified mourner as saying at the time.

It’s a dramatic reminder of the death of someone famous, or of what can happen if you’re a migrant, foreigner or a student who isn’t looking out for your safety or welfare. But recent suicides of students attending prestigious private schools in the United States have brought these tragedies back into the spotlight.

Now, the founder of a Montreal funeral home is on a mission to keep international students from committing suicide, and to recognize and support their families.

Michael Hutchence died at the age of 40. He was one of the lead singers for INXS.

Since 2015, a number of students have died at McGill University, a private university and college in Montreal.

Family members have told CNN that students are afraid to report bullying they may face at the school.

“Parents don’t trust the schools,” said Montreal funeral home owner Mike Moore. “Their experiences are not good. And unfortunately, too often, students think that, once they leave school, everything is going to be ok.”

Moore, 57, said he’s worked for the funeral home industry for more than 20 years. He said he decided to start the International Education Group when he realized how many suicidal immigrants to Canada have come through his organization’s doors.

“Once they’ve found their home here in Montreal, what happens is, if they face deportation, they’re just in limbo,” Moore said. “No one sees them.”

He says students come to his funeral home seeking help with depression and anxiety, many from South Asia.

“Life is not that simple,” Moore said. “And we need to help them understand that this is something that they will have to deal with for the rest of their lives.”

McGill University tells CNN it has not yet made any formal comment on Moore’s work. A McGill spokesperson said the school has nothing to add to what it has already said about this issue.

According to the McGill website, the school boasts roughly 18,000 students, most of whom are Canadian citizens. The number of international students has increased substantially in recent years, as higher tuition fees at Canadian universities have helped make them more attractive to students.

Only last month, Sandra Ismael-Lemaire, 36, a native of the Ivory Coast, jumped to her death off an overpass as a number of people gathered to mourn the passing of her husband, death and birthday.

In 2015, a French student jumped to his death.

Last month, a 15-year-old French student jumped from an overpass after discovering his family had recently moved to Canada.

There have been no deaths of students at Montreal University since those three suicides.

However, multiple students have come forward to tell CNN that they have considered suicide over the years.

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