I recently read an article titled, “Depression, Lack of Social Support Trigger Suicidal Thoughts in College Students” (click here to read the full article). The article highlighted a research project of face-to-face interviews with 1085 incoming college freshman and then did annual follow-ups throughout their 4 years in college. Here are some of the stats that came from this research project:
- 151 (12 percent) said they had pondered committing suicide at least once
- 37 of these 151 contemplated suicide repeatedly.
- 27 of the 151 had actually attempted suicide at some point – either before or during college
- 22 of the 151 reported planning a suicide before college, but never attempted
Regardless of how over/under-whelming those stats are to you personally, there is one thing the article notes that I think is important to keep in mind:
“The risk for major psychiatric disorders peaks during late adolescence and early adulthood, especially during the transition from home to a life of partial independence, the investigators say. Being away from one’s family and friends coupled with the stress of new social and academic pressures can exacerbate depression and anxiety and, in some, could become the proverbial final straw that triggers suicidal behavior, the researchers say.”
As far as factors attributing to this the article points out the following:
“Among these factors…lack of social support — described as feeling unappreciated, unloved and uninvolved with family and friends — emerged as one of the most powerful predictors of persistent suicidal thoughts, even in the absence of other risk factors. Other risk factors included having depressive symptoms, exposure to domestic violence in childhood and having a mother suffering from depression, all of which made students more likely to ponder suicide.”
I just think it’s really important to keep in mind the pressures, emotions, and internal processing going on with the people we are working with. Here are a few questions you can ask students to get a feel of the pressures they’re facing:
- What do you feel like others want from you?
- What do you think others want for you?
- What commitments do your parents have that you also want to shape your life?
- What commitments do your parents have that you don’t want a part of your life?