BY KATELYN MASSARELLI
Hannah Cimon never liked the weather in Laconia, New Hampshire, according to her father, Mike Cimon, but she loved the weather in Tampa. She loved the palm trees and the sun, he said. This was largely why she spent her four years at UT and stayed in Tampa after graduating in May 2016.
“[UT] was an important part of her life,” Mike said. “She loved campus; loved the professors. She graduated with honors.”
On Feb. 17, though, Hannah was found dead at the edge of West Parking Garage in the grass. Campus Safety blocked off the parking garage at 8:41 a.m. while the scene was investigated by the Tampa Police Department (TPD). TPD reported no foul play and tentatively ruled her death as a suicide.
“None of us saw it coming,” Mike said of his daughter taking her life. “I’m somewhat in denial because this is so out of character for her and just the worst possible thing. I don’t understand and it’s too difficult to comprehend.”
Hannah was the youngest of Mike’s four children at 23 years old. Her siblings and step-siblings loved her and had a tremendous bond, according to Mike. He said it was difficult for all of them when they learned of their sister’s passing.
The family has received a lot of support on social media. Mike says his extended family has flown into New Hampshire from out of state. “We’re all just trying to get a laugh in and smile every now and then,” Mike said.
At UT, Hannah studied public relations and communications. Lisa Brock, adjunct professor in the communications department, stood out to Hannah most in her four years at UT, according to her father.
“In my first class, she appeared as a shy, early junior but in her writing — it was a writing course — she unveiled her big dreams and her willingness to work for them,” Brock said.
Hannah wanted to do meaningful work and didn’t want to be ordinary, according to Brock. Hannah took another course with Brock as a senior. As the owner of Brock Communications, Brock took Hannah on as an intern for her company.
“I was a mentor and she was a willing mentee,” Brock said. “She sought feedback and was serious about being a young professional. Since she worked for a client, I often got feedback and she was working very hard and learning so much.”
After Hannah graduated from UT, she accepted a position with Positive Coaching Alliance of Tampa Bay (PCA), according to Mike. He said she was fired from the company recently and also received a DUI in August 2016. Mark Sakalosky, Executive Director at PCA, released this statement:
“Everyone at PCA who worked with Hannah Cimon respected and admired her. The details of her employment with Positive Coaching Alliance are confidential. Our heart goes out to Hannah’s family.”
Hannah’s friend, Devon Nestel, a senior graphic design major, has fond memories of her friend. She said Hannah was filled with energy and that it was difficult not love her when they first met in 2015.
“You could sit around in sweatpants and do absolutely nothing but have the best day ever because Hannah would keep you crying with laughter over the most simple things,” Nestel said. “Hannah was so perfect. Sunshine, really. She is family to [our friends], the most beautiful soul anyone would be lucky to know and love.”
Hannah’s friend Kristin McKenna, ‘16, said every memory she shared with her friend was a happy one. McKenna said Hannah never failed to lift their moods.
“Hannah is the person who, without a doubt, would bring a smile to any of our faces, no matter how we felt in that moment,” McKenna said. “She has a way of connecting with people that I don’t think any person on Earth will ever be able to do in the same way. She is the kind of friend that people only wish they could find. And I will always use present tense because although she may not be physically with us anymore, she will always be one of my best friends. That will never change.”
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. and is the third leading cause of death from ages 10-24, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
Counseling services at Dickey Health and Wellness Center don’t offer services for alumni, but Connie McCullough, counseling services director, would encourage anyone to check their mental health resources page. She would also encourage alumni to consider local resources like the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.
“Transitional times are always tumultuous — reflect back to entering college,” McCullough said of post graduation life. “Students need to establish support and knowledge of resources as they start any transitional period.”
Stephanie Russell Krebs, dean of students, encourages any students in need of counseling to reach out to Dickey Health and Wellness Center. She urges students to familiarize themselves with campus, local and national resources on suicide prevention and recognize the signs.
“If you do happen to lose a friend or loved one to suicide, consider looking into ways to make their life and death have a helpful meaning to others,” Krebs said. “Avoid falling into the judgmental trap that suicide is selfish. The person who commits suicide is in extreme pain, and the friends and loved ones they leave behind are in extreme pain. Avoid feeling angry and guilty. Instead, look at the ways of fighting and preventing that pain.”
Hannah’s father reflected positively on Hannah and said she was loved by many.
“We had a strong relationship and I loved her very much,” Mike said. “I would have done anything for her. Hannah was a special and happy person.”
Mike Cimon shared a video that Hannah had made for one of Brock’s courses at UT entitled “Where We Love Is Home.” Watch it here