Mental health affects suicide rates on college campuses

News Editor Karah Wilson

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students, but it is preventable, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

There are 1,100 suicides at colleges per year and one in 12 have made a plan at some point, according to collegedegreeresearch. The emotional health of college freshmen has declined to the lowest in 25 years, according to the website.

Mazie Snider, vice president of the Active Minds at UNA, said the organization holds events on campus to spread awareness and provide connections to resources.

Active Minds is a mental health awareness organization and there are over 400 chapters throughout the country.

“We provide an opportunity for students to get involved on campus and come together to change the conversation about mental health,” Snider said. “Students also have the opportunity to engage with other students who are also passionate about mental health.”

Six percent of undergraduate and 4 percent of graduate students have seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, according to collegedegreesearch. Nearly half of each group did not tell anyone. One and a half out of 100 students have attempted suicide.

According to AP News, most of the largest U.S. public universities do not track suicides among their students, despite making investments in prevention at a time of surging demand for mental health services.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is currently focused on supporting state-level legislation and regulatory efforts in order to reach the end goal for all 50 states to require such notification and policies on college and university campuses.

According to Education Commission of the States, postsecondary institutions and state legislation increased efforts in recent years to combat mental health challenges facing students. Increased counseling and mental health professional staffing, increased suicide prevention awareness and resource allocation toward suicide prevention efforts are some of the new resources implemented on campuses.

The suicide rate among young adults ages 15 to 24 has tripled since the 1950s. In the past 50 years, suicide rates for the age range has increased by over 200 percent, according to collegedegreesearch.

The website reported two times more male students ages 20 to 24 die by suicide than females. Twelve people ages 15 to 24 will die by suicide today, which is one about every two hours.

Age is not the only factor that goes into the suicide rates among young adults.

Ninety percent of suicides are by caucasians and between 1980 and 1995, there was a 214 percent increase of suicides by African-Americans ages 15 to 24. Native Americans have the highest suicide rate ages 15 to 24, according to collegedegreesearch.

The website lists competition, tuition rates, acceptance rate, campus crime and the economy as some of the stress producers among college students. It also lists Northwestern University, Harvard University, Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania and Washington University in St. Louis as the five most stressful universities.

“(Every chapter of Active Minds) spreads awareness about mental health and strive to change the conversation about mental health,” Snider said. “Every chapter has fun and creative ways of doing this.”