Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among college students in the US, with over 1,000 suicides on college campuses each year. Beyond those who die by suicide, many more have experienced suicidal thoughts. Research suggests that 1 in 10 students report having suicidal ideation.
Some of the risk factors for suicide among college students, include depression or another mental health problem, a past history of suicide, impulsivity, loss of a social network, loss of a relationship, and being in a new environment. Many students also experience college level academics as more demanding, and may have decreased academic performance and subsequent feelings of failure. Substance use increases risk for suicidal behavior, and male students are more than two times more likely to die by suicide than female students.
Suicide on college campuses is a major problem and should be taken seriously. There are some protective factors that students may have, including:
- Supportive social and family network
- Problem-solving skills
- Ability to cope and regulate strong emotions
- A positive view of the future
- Religious or cultural beliefs that discourage suicide
- Access to mental health care
If you are worried about a friend or classmate who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out to offer support. Here are some things you may consider when reaching out:
- Express your concern – try saying “I’m worried about you”
- Don’t be afraid to ask about suicide directly. Asking a friend about suicide won’t increase their risk of suicide.
- Listen, show interest, offer support, and take it seriously.
- Don’t promise to keep secrets – always seek more support when needed
- Help your friend find assistance
- Talk with your RA
- Counseling Center
- Campus Safety (206-281-2911)
- Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255)
- If your friend is in imminent or immediate danger, call 9-1-1 or campus safety
Mental health problems are treatable, and suicide is preventable. Supporting your friends and classmates and connecting them with help goes a long way to preventing suicide.