Alexandria Sese > Sophomore > English > University of Illinois at Chicago
According to the American Association of Suicidology, in 2007 someone committed suicide every 12.5 minutes, making suicide the 11th leading cause of death in America. Among youth from ages 15 to 24, however, suicide ranks third.
For men, most of completed suicides are done with the use of firearms while women choose poisoning. According to researches by the American Association of Suicidology, feelings of hopelessness are more indicative of suicidal risk than depression which makes a lot of college students nowadays at risk.
With midterms and papers piling up, in addition to feeling lonely and far away from loved ones, life in college can drive a student to edge. Add in social conflicts such as bullying, and you can see why situations like the recent case of Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University freshman who committed suicide, are not so uncommon.
But are college campuses doing enough to lessen suicidal risks among their students?
Mozy Shamah, a student from New York University, describes how his campus went beyond counseling services: “It’s always been the butt of NYU suicide jokes, but the truth is that [the Bobst Library atrium] is the spot for ‘jumpers,’” says Shamah.
The school went as far installing Plexiglas walls in the hallways, he said, where there were only glass half walls before. However, this did not prevent a junior NYU student from committing suicide in the same library atrium in Nov. 2009.
“All I can say is that in an intensive school like NYU, if you take school as seriously as it should be taken, it’s very hard to have a social life, especially if you have a job eating up your time as well,” says Shamah. Although Shamah never seriously considered suicide, he admits to having become seriously depressed at some points of his college career.
“It’s also important to remember that NYU is a big school for dormers and most students don’t have family in the area either. It is very, very easy to feel alone and overwhelmed. And it can happen very quickly and take your guard down,” he says.
“Even in a group of people, sometimes you become so isolated in your own world,” says Helen Jones*, a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “Sometimes, you just don’t want to bother other people with your problems.”
This is where college counseling services are supposed to step in. But even with the abundance and availability of these services, there are still countless students who don’t seek help when they need to.
“I’ve talked to someone in the counseling center once,” says Jones. “It wasn’t a strong enough or personal enough of a support for me.”
“Honestly, I wouldn’t know where to go if I wanted emotional or counseling support. I assume that the school has it and that I can find it online,” Shamah says.
Another reason that students are not coming forward is fear of the stigma that society imposes on people who feel the need to seek help.
“Sometimes, they just haven’t thought about [seeking help],” says Steven Binns, Coordinator of Volunteers for Suicide Prevention Services (SPS) based in Batavia, IL.
Fortunately, there are other ways of seeking help for suicidal risks. Binns points out that most people are so focused on helping others with this problem that they forget to take care of themselves.
“It’s important to focus on basic health care such as getting enough sleep or alone time,” says Binns. A support system is also essential whether or not you are suicidal. “Be a good listener as well, of course,” Binns adds.
Aside from suicide hotlines, Suicide Prevention Services also do “post-vention”: the counseling of survivors of suicide attempts or those who have been affected by a loved one’s death by suicide.
“I love the advocacy that comes out of it,” says Binns. “When people grieve in a healthy way, they become advocate[s] for awareness [of] suicide.” He also shares that volunteers for hotlines—who go through an intensive training program—have considered their experiences with SPS as important bec
ause it changed the way they see the world.
For more information about SPS, visit www.spsfv.org
For more information on suicide in the U.S. and how to watch out for the risks, visit www.suicidology.org/web/guest/stats-and-tools/fact-sheets.
*Name has been changed.