College suicide rate rises

By Jessica Chesko
October 20, 2006

Suicide is threatening to become the most serious problem among college age students. As of now, it is the third leading cause of death among people ages 15 to 24. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 86 percent of these suicides were male and 14 percent were female.

Each year, approximately 5,000 college students die by suicide according to the National Mental Health Association. Of these suicides, 54 percent were committed using firearms. Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States today, according to the NMHA. 30,000 Americans commit suicide every year out of an additional 500,000 who attempt suicide every year.

The statistics tend to vary among different age groups, races and even between men and women. According to the CDC, suicide is the eighth leading cause of death among men in the United States.

Someone around the globe commits suicide every 40 seconds, according to the World Health Organization.

Males are four times more likely to die from suicide than females. However, women are reported to have attempted suicide during their lifetime, about three times as often as men; men just succeeded more often.

“I think that’s probably because it seems that men are more violent than women,” said Jessica Storm, a sophomore studio arts major. “Guys aren’t as good at dealing with emotions as women are, so they kind of take out their emotions with violence.”

However, completed suicides are only part of the problem. More people are hospitalized and treated for attempted suicide than are actually killed. The ratio of attempts to completed suicides is at least 10 to 1, according to the NMHA.

Suicide deaths outnumber homicide deaths five to three, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. “I do find it hard to believe, especially in this area, that there are more suicides than homicides,” said Jeff Batt, a senior graphic design major “I mean Philadelphia is one of the top murder cities in the country.”

Storm said, “I think that it’s easier for people to kill themselves rather than others because there are no consequences and it’s easier to hurt yourself than another person.”

Some warning signs of a potentially suicidal person may include feelings of hopelessness, previous suicide attempts, daring or risk-taking behavior, depression, personality changes and giving away prized possessions. More warning signs include lack of interest in future plans and verbal suicide threats such as, “You’d be better off without me” or “Maybe I won’t be around.”

“Eight out of ten suicidal persons give some sign of their intentions. People who talk about suicide, threaten to commit suicide or call suicide crisis centers are 30 times more likely than average to kill themselves,” says the NMHA.

Many colleges have no counseling or suicide prevention services. “Of course we have counseling services,” said Dr. Christine Lysionek, director for student development “We hope that anyone having these feelings would go for assistance.” Visits to Cabrini’s counseling center are kept confidential.

Cabrini’s counseling service advises anyone who believes they, or a friend or roommate, is in trouble to please contact them immediately.

All resident assistants at Cabrini attend training sessions before the start of school. “We have a session with Kallie from counseling,” said Kristi Mcconnell, RA and senior human resources major. “She went over all kinds of topics including suicide and told us some of the basic warning signs. If we have a resident who we suspect is suicidal, we would report to our area coordinator who would also contact counseling services.”

Mcconnell continued, “The RA’s role is to listen to the student and direct them to the best person to talk to. We might ask a student if something is wrong but we wouldn’t try to handle it ourselves. We are obligated to tell someone.”

“Sometimes we’ll become aware of students having a hard time,” said Lysionek “That’s definitely the advantage of being on a smaller campus like this.”

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Jessica Chesko

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