College students share many of the risk factors and warning signs for suicide seen among the general population. Some facts about today's college students are worrisome:
- 30 percent of college freshmen surveyed on mental health issues feel overwhelmed a great deal of the time; 38 percent of all college women feel the same way.
- A leading national suicide-prevention organization estimates that one in 10 college students has considered suicide.
Until recently, most colleges took the approach that student mental health challenges and inappropriate behaviors were best handled by parents, health centers, and the students themselves.
All that is changing rapidly, says Jane L. Pearson, Ph.D., Associate Director for Preventive Interventions at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Colleges are working with researchers, students, and parents to build support and outreach programs.
"We now recognize that college students are not privileged kids at low risk for mental health problems," she says. "That is one reason why NIMH has been funding research on preventing suicide, depression, and other disorders among college students." Dr. Pearson also chairs the NIMH Suicide Research Consortium, made up of several different NIH and partner organizations.
To Find Out More
For more about preventing suicide among college
students, the following resources should be of help:
- MedlinePlus: www.medlineplus.gov
(Type "suicide" in the Search box)
- National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH):
- University of Michigan's Depression Center (research funded, in part, by NIMH):
- The Jed Foundation: (a leading organization
working to reduce emotional distress and prevent
suicide among college students)
Stress among college students stems from a variety of related areas:
- Academic demands
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Financial responsibilities
- Pre-existing mood disorders (bipolar, obsessive-compulsive, depression, etc.)
- New social relationships
- Physical health problems
- Sexual identity and behavior issues
- Life-after-graduation anxieties