Suicide is the number two cause of death in college students, according to a study from the University of Virginia. The research, commissioned by Dr. James C. Turner, looked at leading causes of deaths among college students at four-year universities. It is the first research of its kind to be published since 1939.
The number one cause of death among college students is motor vehicle accidents, accounting for 6.88 deaths per 100,000. About half of those accidents involved alcohol in some capacity. Suicide was the number two cause of death, accounting for 6.18 deaths per 100,000 students.
Of the deaths caused by suicide, most also involve a mental disorder, most commonly depression. “Depression itself is really high,” says Alysha Greig, a student at the University of Washington. “Forty percent of people between the ages of 18 and 25 will experience depression at some point.”
Greig herself recently participated in the UW’s “Out of the Darkness Walk,” which aimed to boost public awareness of suicide and raise funds for the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. Depression and suicide are subjects that are close to her heart; she struggled through a deep depression during her second year at UW, contemplating suicide at times.
“What made it so hard for me was that I felt so alone… people need to know they’re not alone. That there’s other people who have had those experiences.”
And though the suicide rate among young people is vastly lower than those who are older, it is still a topic that needs to be addressed and understood by the general public. It is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, and a 2008 study by the American Psychological Association found that about half of all undergraduate students had contemplated taking their own lives at some point.
The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention works to better understand what causes so many people to contemplate, attempt, and succeed at suicide. It also provides a vast array of information on risk factors and warning signs, research findings, and more.
If you or a loved one are in crisis and contemplating suicide, the AFSP also provides a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).