LBCC mourns the loss of student veteran Tom Tyger

"Tom" Dakota Thomas Tyger

Last week LBCC and the Willamette Valley lost a beloved member of the community.

“Our community is suffering: he was an amazing member of the community, and he inspired everyone his life touched,” said John Maine, member of the LBCC Veterans Club.

On April 5, Tom Dakota Tyger was found in his home after taking his own life.

Tyger, 21, served his country with pride, and according to his family and friends, made everyone he was close to proud of him. Upon leaving the military, Tyger continued striving to make a difference in his community; this time at the community college.

Tyger was an active student in the LBCC community and was known to enjoy school. He was well-known and respected by his teachers. Tyger had an interest in political sciences and the liberal arts, but was taking a wide variety of general education courses. During his time at LBCC, Tyger was a member of the Veterans Club, the LBCC Active Minds club, and Student Life and Leadership. While at LBCC, Tyger enjoyed physical activity, especially lifting weights, and the gym became his sanctuary.

These three groups have come together with others who knew Tyger to plan a memorial and remembrance service, which will be held at LBCC on Thursday, April 13. The service will be held at 4:30 p.m., and more information will be released as soon as final arrangements are made.

A memorial site has been set up on the east side of the Forum building, where students, staff and faculty can leave notes, flowers, pictures and other remembrance items for the family.

If you would like to help with the service, contact John Maine or Lina deMorais in the Veteran’s Center.

Tyger’s parents would like to thank the LBCC and Albany communities for loving him and showing him so much support.

To help students, staff, and faculty through this loss, counseling is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Advising Center in Takena Hall, and additional counseling is available in the Veterans Center, with more information coming later as they work out an exact schedule. Additional counseling and grief support will be provided at the end of the memorial.

LBCC’s Advising Center offers short-term counseling, but does not provide long-term therapy.

“We are not set up to do long-term therapy, so we refer and work with our community providers,” said Lisa Hoogesteger, a well-being counselor at LBCC.

While booking an appointment in the advising center is generally preferred, the counselors are aware that sometimes, especially, with situations such as this, people need to come in right away to talk. This is, according to Hoogesteger, perfectly acceptable, and the counselors will do their best to meet with people on the fly.

Free coffee will be available in the Hot Shot Cafe for those who want to sit down and talk about Tyger.

A day of weightlifting in honor of Tyger is also in the works, with more details to follow.

Members of the LBCC Active Minds club will also be passing out pamphlets and brochures with contact information for crisis hotlines. The Active Minds club is a nonprofit organization that encourages students to speak about mental health, both to help educate the community and to encourage people to seek help.

“We were lucky to have the time we had with him, but I wish we had more,” said Maine. “I challenge everyone to show compassion towards those around them and be an ear for people.”

Maine was not the only one to share this sentiment.

“Try to not only be sympathetic of situations, but empathetic as well. Being able to relate to people is a lot more powerful,” said Justen Noll, leader of the LBCC Active Minds club. “Be mindful of your fellow classmates; I think mindfulness is very important to practice. Be aware of what you say and listen to others, if they need to talk, lend yourself as an open ear.”

Tyger is survived by parents Tim, Terra, and Wendy Tyger; sisters Sadie Campbell, Cierra Tyger, and Nevaeh Tyger; and brother Levi Gutierrez, as well as Levi’s wife, Autumn Rollin, and their two children, Levi Jr. and Kayden Gutierrez.

If you, or anyone you know, is in need of further support or needs someone to talk to, call any of the emergency numbers below. In addition, take the time to read “How to Help Someone Who Is Suicidal,” provided by the Mayo Clinic.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Linn County Mental Health: 1-800-560-5535

Benton County Mental Health: 1-888-232-7192

Community Outreach Crisis Intervention: 541-758-3000
Native Youth Crisis Hotline: 1-877-209-1266

National Crisis Textline: Text Connect to 741741

Support After Suicide: 541-905-9787

Story by Katelyn Boring

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