College is a time of significant transition. Many students face great stress from a variety of sources, such as: increased academic demands, adjusting to a new environment, developing a new support system, and experimenting with alcohol and drugs, which may compound problems with mood and increase the risk for suicide.
Many students come to college with a prior history of mental health difficulties or treatment. In a recent national survey 16% of college students reported being diagnosed with a depressive disorder, many within the last year. Over 90% of persons who commit suicide have a diagnosable mental disorder, typically a depressive disorder or substance abuse disorder.
Facts about Suicide
- Most suicidal persons want to live but are unable to see alternatives to their problems.
- Most suicidal persons give warnings of their intentions, but others are either unaware or do not know how to respond.
- Talking about suicide does not cause someone to be suicidal.
- Just because a person talks about suicide (expresses his/her feelings), does not mean he/she is no longer at risk for suicide.
- Most suicide attempts are expressions of extreme distress, not harmless bids for attention.
What Are Some Warning Signs?
The following signs may mean someone is at risk for suicide. The risk of suicide is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss or change. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these signs, seek help as soon as possible by calling the Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255 (TALK).
- Deteriorating academic performance
- Depression, dramatic mood changes
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
- Anxiety or agitation
- Uncontrolled anger or rage
- Engaging in risky activities
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Neglecting appearance and hygiene
- Increased alcohol or drug use
- Giving away prized possessions
- Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Sleeping too little or too much
Content adapted from:
University of Georgia Counseling Center "Understanding Risk and Protective Factors for Suicide”
“Risk and protective factors for suicide" by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center
the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline