La Crosse Police, first responders and School Resource Officers were called to a “traumatic scene” near Lincoln Middle School on Wednesday morning. Students and staff at Viterbo University were notified by President Rick Trietley that a student named Javon Kunkel had died by suicide.
“Javon’s family wanted to share with the community that Javon died by suicide and encourages anyone who may be struggling to seek support,” Trietley said, in part, in the letter.
No other details of the incident have been provided in respect to those involved and the nature of what happened.
Lincoln staff were made aware around 7 a.m. Wednesday of the scene on the 600 block of 9th Street South, but it did not happen at the school. Students were helped inside of the school building, as emergency personnel responded.
“It is with sadness that we must inform you of an incident which occurred near our school this morning,” Lincoln/Coulee Montessori Principal Alex Hubing said, in part, in a letter to school families provided to WIZM. “Lincoln Middle School administration were made aware of a traumatic scene on the 600 block of 9th St South.
“This incident did not pose a threat to students, but we are aware that police incidents near school can be challenging for students to process. We are reaching out to any students or staff who may have witnessed this to offer care and support. Additional counseling support will be available at Lincoln Middle today and in the future if students need help.”
Kunkel was a student in the Master of Arts in Servant Leadership program. The Rochester, Minn., native was also on the track team.
“On behalf of the Viterbo University community, we extend our deepest sympathies to Javon’s friends, family, and colleagues,” Trietley stated.
May is Mental Health Awareness month. Resources from the La Crosse County on mental health can be found here.
Viterbo had a prayer service Wednesday afternoon to remember Kunkel.
“We recognize the deep loss many of us may be experiencing following the loss of a fellow V-Hawk,” Trietley said in the letter. “Please utilize Counseling Services, Campus Ministry, and the Employee Assistance Program (FEI) as needed. May we all pause a moment from our daily pressures to give thanks for the vitality Javon brought to our community. This loss reminds us about how precious – and sometimes fleeting – life can be. As Javon’s parents have underscored, please seek help when needed and reach out to one another to offer strength and support. Take time today and in the days ahead to care for yourself and your fellow V-Hawks.”