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Campus Suicide: The Dark Side of College Life

College life can be stressful. Unfortunately, suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students after car accidents and occurs twice as often in men than in women. The transition of new living arrangements, responsibilities, and the uncertainty of a new routine can trigger an emotional roller coaster for some students while leaving others unphased.

A study by the American College Health Association found that 94% of college and university students felt overwhelmed by everything that they had to do and 44% felt so depressed they found it difficult to function. According to, nearly 1,100 suicides will occur on college campuses this year.

Suddenly moving away from a familiar support system can trigger depression in college students, however some have higher risk factors than others including:

• Mental health problems like depression or substance abuse
• Prior history of suicidal behavior
• Suicidal behavior of a friend or colleague
• Interpersonal isolation
• Impulsive, aggressive or antisocial behaviors
• History of abuse

Some college students exhibit no warning signs and still feel suicidal, while others may exhibit many of these signs yet appear to be coping. Recognizing signs of depression and suicidal behavior, and reaching out for help, can literally save a person's life.

Warning signs of severe depression/suicidal behavior

• Appearing depressed or sad most of the time 
• Expressions of suicidal thoughts, or talk of death 
• Withdrawal from friends and family
• Difficulties in dealing with sexual orientation
• Impulsive, aggressive behavior, frequent expressions of rage
• Academic problems
• Increased substance abuse problems
• Disregard for personal appearance 
• Feeling hopeless and helpless 

• Experiences drastic changes in behavior
• Losing interest in most activities
• Giving away possessions
• Feeling excessive guilt or shame
• Having trouble eating or sleeping

Finding Help on Campus 
Most colleges and universities have mental health counseling services and suicide awareness programs in place as a resource to help students, and even RA's in dorms are trained to recognize signs of depression. If you recognize any of the warning signs of suicidal behavior in yourself or in a friend, please seek help immediately. Campus health centers are staffed with people who are all too familiar with issues that are unique to college students, and some colleges even have a temporary leave of absence policy. To learn more about suicide behavior and prevention, visit the following:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education:
Suicide Prevention Resource Center:
American Association of Suicidology: 

Suicide attempts or threats should never be ignored. To learn more about the signs and symptoms of depression or to find make an appointment with a mental health professional near you, download the iTriage app or visit


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