Nora Moses, Contributing Photographer

Content warning: This article contains references to suicide.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a hotline for individuals in crisis or for those looking to help someone else. To speak with a certified listener, call 988. 

Crisis Text Line is a texting service for emotional crisis support. To speak with a trained listener, text HELLO to 741741. It is free, available 24/7 and confidential.

To talk with a counselor from Yale Mental Health and Counseling, schedule a session here. On-call counselors are available at any time: call (203) 432-0290.  Appointments with Yale College Community Care can be scheduled here.

Additional resources are available in a guide compiled by the Yale College Council here.

On Wednesday, about 100 Yale students and New Haven residents gathered at the Women’s Table on Cross Campus for a vigil to commemorate U.S. airman Aaron Bushnell and Palestinians killed in Gaza amid Israel’s war against Hamas.  

Bushnell, 25, was an active duty U.S. Air Force airman who died on Monday outside the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C. According to ABC News, Bushnell said “I will no longer be complicit in genocide” and “Free Palestine!” prior to dying in protest.

Four speakers addressed the crowd of about 100 people, who gathered around the Women’s Table. A Palestinian flag, candles, red roses and signs — one of which featured pictures of Bushnell — adorned the monument. A Yale Police Department car was parked on Cross Campus for the entirety of the event. 

All four speakers at the vigil requested anonymity due to safety concerns.

The first speaker discussed the account of Bushnell’s death and her reaction to it. 

“Personally, when I heard Aaron’s screams, I was shaken to my core. My stomach felt ill and my heart deeply ached. Aaron exposes the moral rot at the heart of the empire,” she said. “I am so sickened and angry at the continual neglect of Palestinian humanity and refusal of so many, including the Yale administration, to acknowledge and denounce a genocide which has been going on for over 75 years.” 

The vigil follows months of student activism related to the Israel-Hamas war. On Oct. 7, Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel, in which Hamas killed at least 1,200 people and took 250 people as hostages, according to Israel’s Foreign Ministry. Israel responded to the attack with a declaration of war and full bombardment of Gaza. As of Feb. 29, Israel has killed more than 30,000 people in Gaza through its military onslaught, according to the health ministry in Gaza. 

After this first speech, attendees participated in a moment of silence “for Aaron, and for the martyrs in Gaza and Palestine,” per the first speaker. 

The second speaker addressed Yale administrators directly, asking the University to “stop calling us on our personal numbers to tell us they disapprove of our actions,” or “threatening us in attempts to silence us.”

According to the speaker, Yale administrators asked organizers to cancel the event on Wednesday due to concerns that “this action will only make things worse, will make more people more upset.”

To that we respond, we are more concerned. And we are more upset,” the second speaker said. “We have been for months and for lifetimes. We are holding space because there has been no response from the administration. No acknowledgment of the 30,000 deaths. No call for a ceasefire and no response to our demands.”

The University’s spokesperson wrote to the News that the University clinicians and administrators who contacted Yalies4Palestine leadership about the event “intended to remind students about mental health issues on campus and available resources for support.” 

“University clinicians and administrators were concerned about the difficult content of the gathering and the potential impact on students,” Peart wrote. “Yale staff reached out to student organizers to share these concerns and offer mental health guidance and support.”

In January, Yalies4Palestine and Yale Law Students for Justice in Palestine organized a walk-out for Gaza and issued a press release listing demands of the University. Demands included public support by the University for a ceasefire, the implementation of boycott, divestment and sanctions in investment policy and divestment from weapons manufacturing and actions against what they called anti-Palestinian and Islamaphobic harassment on campus. 

The University has not publicly responded to these demands. In University President Peter Salovey’s Nov. 3 “remarks on compassion and civility,” he noted that there are “waves of hatred” toward Jewish, Muslim, Israeli and Palestinian people and emphasized that antisemitism and Islamophobia are “empathetically against” the University’s values. In his Dec. 7 statement called “Against Hatred,” Salovey urged “open exchange of ideas” and directed students toward resources for safety and mental health support. 

Yale’s investments in weapons manufacturing have remained a source of student protest in recent weeks and months. The University’s review of their investments policy is nearing a close. 

The third speaker read two poems. The first poem, by Palestinian author and activist Jenan Matari, describes the speaker’s experience of watching graphic videos of the war in Gaza, and of a video depicting Bushnell’s death. The second, entitled “The Birds don’t know about self-immolation,” is an anonymous poem publicized by Jinx Press, a “radical media collective,” on X on Monday. In the poem, the speaker narrates their reactions to seeing other people, the natural world and birdsong after hearing of Bushnell’s death. 

The fourth and final speaker urged students to support workers in weaponry manufacturing and exportation in using their capacity to strike or boycott. If these workers were to boycott, the speaker said, “not a single bomb or weapon is designed, constructed, loaded or shipped … the system would come to a grinding halt.” 

The speaker cited strikes from early November in Spain and Belgium where transportation workers refused to handle Israeli weaponry shipments. 

“As students who have the privilege of housing and three meals a day, we must help mobilize the workers who are the only class capable of leading a struggle against these genocidal regimes,” he said.

Immediately following the vigil, around 30 of the attendees moved into Sterling Memorial Library to participate in a protest. During this demonstration, students laid on the ground in the main entrance of Sterling for about 20 minutes. At approximately 6:10 p.m., the protesters started chanting “Free Free Palestine” and singing “we breathe together, stop the occupation” and “from the river to the sea,” before exiting the library.

One attendee interviewed by the News said that she came to the vigil because of the importance of commemorating those who have been hurt by the war. 

“I think that it’s important that as a collective, we’re showing that we care about everyone that’s been injured,” said Rosa Serrano GRD ’26 “And I think it’s especially important to do it so visibly at Yale because they still haven’t divested their funds from war machinery manufacturers.”

One attendee at the Vigil said that as a former member of the military, they feel empathy for Bushnell’s “feeling of helplessness at the crimes the military commits.” 

A New Haven resident, who identified themself only as Moss, said they were part of a group of attendees at the vigil associated with the Revolutionary Communists of America, a political party advocating that “the existing capitalist-imperialist systems and institutions of government in this country must be abolished and dismantled” according to their website

Sterling Memorial Library opened in 1931. 

Karla Cortes contributed reporting.