College Freshmen at Greater Risk of Death Than Older Students

WASHINGTON – A study recently conducted by USA Today on the deaths of college students finds that first-year students are more vulnerable than sophomores, juniors and seniors.

The newspaper analyzed 620 deaths that occurred since Jan. 1, 2000 and determined that freshmen accounted for 40 percent of undergraduate deaths from natural causes as well as 40 percent of all undergraduate suicides.

Half of all undergraduate deaths that resulted from falls from windows, balconies and rooftops were attributed to first-year students, and 47 percent of all undergrads who died on campus were freshmen. One in five of the students who died had been drinking.

Experts say the reason for this heightened risk may be, in part, biological. The human brain continues to develop after the age of 18, and the lack of brain development in freshmen may affect their judgment.

Others say that today’s children are more supervised and controlled than before. This may make them ill-prepared for independence when they become college students.

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