College suicide rates climbing

Michael Johnson
Contributing Writer

Suicide rates among young adults age 15-24 has tripled in recent decades and is now the second most-common cause of death among college students, according to the American College Health Association.

The ACHA takes a survey of college students each year and the 2010 results show indications of incresaing mental health problems. The spring 2010 survey found that in the previous 12 months, 45.6 percent of students felt things were hopeless, 6.2 percent had seriously considered suicide, and 1.3 had attempted suicide.

“I think it’s very important for students to realize that it’s okay to seek help,” Dr. Linda Hancock, director at the VCU Wellness Resource Center, said.  “Suicide is the only mistake you can’t learn from.”

The difference in suicide rates among males and females is drastic, with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention stating that males are three to five times more likely to die from suicide than females.

The nonprofit website states that the number one cause of suicide is untreated depression. VCU’s University Counseling Services participates in National Suicide Prevention week, which consists of training workshops on depression as well as classes focused on detecting mental health issues in students.

“We also have therapist available for students in crisis 24/7, 365 (days a year),” said Dr. Jihad Aziz, director at UCS.  “During the day if a student is in crisis (e.g. thinking of suicide) we can have a therapist see him/her that day. Also, if it’s after hours, weekends or holidays students can reach a therapist by contacting VCU police at 828-1234 and requesting to speak to the counselor on call.”

The notion that suicide is more prevalent during the holiday season is just a myth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC states on its website that the suicide rate is actually lowest in December and peaks during the spring and fall seasons. The site also states that suicide is the 11th leading cause of death among Americans, with more than 33,000 people committing suicide each year.

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