The information provided in this article may trigger some people. If you have suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 to get support and help from trained counsellors. If you or someone you love is in immediate danger, call 911.
For more mental health resources, please refer to our national helpline database.
According to the American College Health Association (ACHA), the suicide rate among young people aged 15-24 has tripled since the 1950s. At present, suicide is the second most common cause of death among college students.
These young people are often away from home and friends for the first time. They live with strangers, stay away from their support systems, and work under tremendous pressure-sleep, eating, and exercise patterns are disrupted. You can hardly design a more stressful atmosphere, especially when there is depression or other mental health problems.
Youth Suicide Statistics
In a recently published study Depression and anxiety Among more than 67,000 college students from more than 100 institutions, one-fifth of students had thoughts of suicide, 9% of them tried, and nearly 20% reported self-harm.One in four students reported being diagnosed with a mental illness.
From 2007 to 2015, the suicide rate for girls aged 15 to 19 doubled, reaching a 40-year high, while the suicide rate for boys aged 15 to 19 increased by 30% from 2007 to 2015.At the same time, suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people aged 15-24.
The main risk factors that have been identified for suicide among young people include:
Recognizing the warning signs of suicide is one way to protect young people from suicide. According to the Suicide Awareness/Voice of Education (SA/VE) website, the following situations may indicate that your loved one desperately needs help:
- Disregard of personal image
- Give away the property or the whole thing
- Multiple accidents have resulted in injuries
- Obsession with guns or knives
- Poor academic performance
- Concentrate on death (e.g. music, literature, painting, or letters)
- Risky behavior (reckless driving, carelessness around bridges, cliffs or balconies, or walking in front of traffic)
- Severe mood swings
- A statement that expresses hopelessness, helplessness, or worthlessness. (“Life is useless”, “Everyone will live better without me”, “It doesn’t matter, I won’t live long anyway”, “I wish I could disappear.”)
- Self-destructive behavior (alcohol/drug abuse, self-harm or self-harm, promiscuity)
- Suddenly happy or peaceful state
- Talking about or joking about suicide (for example, reuniting with a deceased relative)
- Unusual visits or calls to people (say goodbye)
- Quit or lose interest in activities that you once enjoyed
Those who commit suicide passively or have vague thoughts about death should still be taken seriously and they should be arranged to see a therapist or psychiatrist.
What the university is doing
Many universities have expanded their mental health counseling services and suicide and depression awareness programs to include training dormitory resident assistants (RA). Cornell University even trains dormitory administrators to watch out for problematic students. Many campuses have added stress relief programs to help students manage stress so that it does not become unbearable.
In addition to using these healthcare and consulting services, students can also build close personal relationships with friends, family, faculty and staff, and develop healthy habits such as adequate sleep, diet, and physical exercise to better resist stress and depression. Health consultant at Arizona State University.
How parents and family can help
Even if your children are not at home, you can help prevent suicide and protect their mental health in many ways.
Participate in their sporting events, performances and other activities. If you feel that their studies have been affected, their grades have declined, or they have withdrawn from campus clubs or organizations, please talk to teachers and staff.
keep in touch
Freshmen especially need to know that the family support they depended on in childhood is still there, even remote. Use whatever way they are most used to talk-text message, phone call, Facebook chat or Facetime.
Ask open-ended questions
If you feel that there is a problem bothering your teenager or college student, please do not spy or panic. Ask open-ended questions and listen carefully to their answers, their tone of voice, and their willingness to share. Avoid criticism, harsh words, or impatience.
Encourage your teenager or young person to take time to take care of themselves, whether it’s reading a good book, watching a movie or taking a nap every day. Send health care packages to your college students and make sure your high school students have nutritious meals and snacks.
Share your struggles
Share some of your struggles when you were young. Saying “I have been there” may be the difference between your teenager or young adult feeling heard and seeing and feeling invisible. They may act as if they don’t care about what you say or show disinterest, but they are likely to hear it anyway.
Monitor social media
This applies to younger teenagers who are less likely to be aware of the emotional impact social media may have on them, including cyberbullying, feelings of low self-esteem, and finding themselves excluded from social activities. Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between the increase in social media use and the increase in adolescent depression.
What to do in a crisis
Suicidal behavior is a manifestation of deep psychological pain. Your child is seeking your help. In a crisis situation, please follow the precautions below:
- Don’t leave your child alone.
- Don’t underestimate their feelings or underestimate their problems.
- Don’t think of your children as if they are just seeking attention.
- Praise them for their courage to ask for help
- Be sure to reassure your children that they are not your burden, nor are they weak.
If your child seems to be in immediate danger of attempted suicide, please call 911 or your local emergency room for help. Since medications and treatments take some time to take effect, your child may need to be hospitalized to protect themselves.