Eighteen percent of undergraduate students in the United States have suicidal thoughts and about one student in 10 makes plans to die by suicide. Every day, there are nearly three on-campus deaths of college students due to suicide. Recently, Philly.com looked at the problem of suicides on campus and asked an important question: “isn’t this an epidemic?”
A suicide attorney knows that college is a transitional time and a period of tremendous emotional stress and vulnerability. Young people are struggling to define themselves away from their families for the first time. They are faced with peer pressure as well as blossoming academic challenges, all of which can become very overwhelming.
Preventing Death by Suicide on College Campuses
College students, parents, friends and family members need to understand when someone is at risk of death by suicide. For the vast majority of people, thoughts of suicide are a “transient” emotional state, so it can be difficult to identify when college students may cross the line from thoughts into taking action.
College campuses try to provide help to prevent death by suicide. Roof access has been reduced and balconies have been blocked off on many campuses in response to student suicides. Special training and screening or evaluation tools are provided on some campuses, and colleges have made counseling available on campus. However, there may be much more that should be done to prevent death by suicide. Suggestions for a campaign to reduce deaths include:
- More education. Suicide should be talked about more frequently, and students should be taught that the brain can be modified to control urges. The difference between automatic conditioned living and purposeful choosing should be explored, and students should be educated more on the boundaries marking the beginning of illness. There should also be more open discussion about available treatments for depression or thoughts of suicide.
- More screening. College students are a highly-vulnerable group at risk for suicide. A broad screening program may be more effective on a college campus than it would be among the general population. The screening program would not only help to identify students who are at risk but would also help to maintain awareness both about the risk of death by suicide as well as about the significance of suicidal ideation.
- Better suicide prevention networks. Suicide prevention efforts should focus on the communication tools that college students use most frequently. For example, students may be more likely to visit a supportive community center web site that acts as a suicide prevention network than they would be to call a suicide hotline. Students should have access to suicide counselors on the social networks that they use most, as they may not visit student health services
By providing better access to suicide prevention services using the communication tools that students need, hopefully the problem of suicide on college campuses could be reduced. Mental health counselors available to students on college campuses also need to be aware of the unique risks that vulnerable student populations face and should be especially vigilant to watch for signs of suicidal thoughts.
A Dallas, TX suicide attorney at the Law Offices of Skip Simpson can help. Call (214) 618-8222 or visit http://www.skipsimpson.com to schedule a free case consultation.