STORY BY MONICA BADOLIAN, STAFF WRITER
PHOTO COURTESY OF NBC NEWS
Cypress College students react to the death of Matthew Perry, star of the hit TV series Friends. The American-Canadian actor was found dead at the age of 54 in his jacuzzi from an apparent drowning with no signs of foul play or substances surrounding the scene on Oct. 28.
Perry wanted to be remembered for helping people who struggled with addiction as he had in recent years and his death has affected thousands of people worldwide who admired him.
Cypress student Kennedy Clay, majoring in Communications, said, “I really loved watching him as an actor. He definitely taught people to try and find the brighter side of things.” Clay mentions that she struggled with her own form of substance abuse as well. “He is a great reminder to stay clear of substance abuse and not abuse any type of drug. If you have depression, you should find solutions and look for help,” she said.
Destiny Mendez, majoring in Diagnostic Medical Sonography said, “I feel like the character he played on Friends really portrayed his character in himself. His persona as Chandler in the TV show was broadcasting his natural character. I can only imagine what kind of impact he had on the people around him.”
Psychology major, Jade Ortiz, said, “He would try to make the most of any situation if it was awkward or if it was tragic in the show, he would always be lighthearted trying to be the light in the room.”
Like Perry, Cypress College’s Health Center provides assistance to help prevent students from struggles similar to those Perry experienced. Marla McBride, the Director of Student Health Services said, “We have rad cards, it’s got the number for the health center where you can make an appointment, and any student who is here can see a counselor. After hours, during weekends, there is the Charger Hope Line, which you call the number and it connects you to a live person to talk to. As well as all of the other lines.”
As of last year, the Active Minds Group was created on campus to promote and support mental health and suicide prevention on campus. McBride said, “It’s focused on mental health topics, suicide prevention, mental wellness activities, focusing on how to destress, how to help anxiety. Moving into next semester we’re going to start a peer to peer program to help train students to address it with other students to help move that discussion forward.”
Next spring the school will be providing Wellness Vending Machines. “The machines will have naloxone, fentanyl testing strips, plan B pregnancy tests, all menstrual care products as well as condoms, female condoms, lubricant, and other over counter medication like ibuprofen, tylenol, antacid, benadryl, cough drops,” said McBride.
McBride goes into detail about the importance of Mental Health and how it affects everyone. “Mental health really blossomed in terms of awareness during the pandemic because we all realized we had big problems dealing with a lot of our anxiety and stress. And substance use is similar. It has all the stigma and negative connotation and a lot of people don’t look at it as a disease,” she said.
McBride recommends having a safety plan for anyone with anxiety, stress, or addiction to follow when stressed out. “…having a friend or a contact person that you feel comfortable reaching out to, before you do anything, is always huge,” she said, “It doesn’t take a lot of effort but you have to be brave enough to open that conversation and say ‘Can I call you or can we talk about it?’.”
Just after Perry released his latest autobiography, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, the actor revealed he had been sober for at least 18 months. His passing is a constant reminder of how substance abuse can affect a person for the rest of their life, even after sobriety. It’s important to normalize the issues by listening to the conversations of others and reaching out without feeling scared, nervous, or embarrassed.