Study: 1 in 5 College Students Contemplate Suicide

A recent study shows that college students are feeling more stress and anxiety than ever, leading to suicidal thoughts or deciding to harm themselves.

Study: 1 in 5 College Students Contemplate Suicide

College students face stressful events such as social problems, academics, and sleep deprivation that are having major effects on their mental health.

One in five college students are so stressed out that they consider suicide, a recent study by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital suggests.

About 67,000 students from more than 100 colleges in the United States were surveyed for the study, which was published in the journal Depression & Anxiety last week, reports the Boston Globe.

This research was conducted in 2015 by the American Health Association-National College Health Assessment and focused on depression, anxiety and treatment.

Young people are extremely vulnerable to the stress that can come from college and have difficulty handling it, the study showed. These issues include academic issues, death of a family member, intimate or social relationships, finances, appearance, health problems and not getting enough sleep.

Mental health disorders play a big role as well. One in four students has been diagnosed or treated for a mental health disorder in the last year.

Cindy Liu, the lead author of the study, believes there is an immense “pressure to achieve” and social media is not helping the situation.

“There are some stresses that are exceeding the capacity of students to cope,” Liu said.

Her team also found that racial, sexual and gender minorities are at a higher risk for suicidal tendencies.

When compared to white students, fewer Asian students were reported to have mental health issues, while black students were less likely to report their mental health problems or suicidal thoughts.

Approximately two-thirds of transgender students reported they have engaged in self-harm, and more than one third attempted suicide. Similar rates were found among bisexual students.

These rates are on the rise in the LGBTQ community. Since 2009, the percentage of individuals in this population having suicidal thoughts jumped from 48 percent to 58 percent. Attempted suicides are up three percent and self-injury is up six percent.

Drugs and alcohol can also make matters worse for students, said suicide expert April Foreman, according to CBS News.

“For many college students, they are trying alcohol and drugs for the first time,” said Foreman, a board member of the American Association of Suicidology. “We know that these things are really destabilizing.”

Foreman also pointed out that college is the age where personality disorders and other mental health issues usually come out, increasing the risk of suicide.

She believes parents need to be more involved with the school to provide support for their children.

The good news is, mental health awareness is more common on college campuses and there is less of a negative stigma surrounding depression and anxiety. There are more resources for students, including peer and group counseling.

Sarah Lipson, a professor at Brown University who specializes in college student mental health, believes this study proves the already known fact; there is a large presence of mental health problems on college campuses.

She says students are less equipped to deal with their failures and it should be more of a priority for the schools to help them succeed.

“There is a lot of responsibility that needs to fall to colleges and university campuses, and to higher education in this country, to think about how we build resilience because I think that’s an underlying, fundamental piece to the mental-health crisis we are seeing,” Lipson said.

MIT is an example of a school that has made support easily accessible on campus. Thirty-one percent of all their students receive mental health services at least once during college, according to MIT.

The school focuses on encouraging minorities on campus to use their resources and have created individual programs for them as well.

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About the Author


Katie Malafronte is Campus Safety's Web Editor. She graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2017 with a Bachelor's Degree in Communication Studies and a minor in Writing & Rhetoric. Katie has been CS's Web Editor since 2018.

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One response to “Study: 1 in 5 College Students Contemplate Suicide”

  1. […] suicide each 40 seconds and suicide is the second main reason for dying amongst 15-29 year-olds. A recent study has proven one in 5 school college students have thought-about suicide and another recent study […]

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