Why are College-Age Youth at High Risk of Suicide?

c3152fd5-283c-4046-8e81-1042d4534dabIt is often said that the teen and college years (Age group: 15 to 24 years) should be the best time in a person’s life.  The risk of suicide is high among these young people all around the world, due to various reasons.

Why do people, especially the young, take their own lives? The most common factor is mental illness. Mental illness is often heightened by a common occurrence on college campuses – drinking. Alcohol and mental illness is often lethal combination. Depression among College Students leads to alcohol or use drugs, to relieve their symptoms. They reduce inhibitions and increase risk-taking, possibly increasing self-destructiveness. Presently the college-age youth have more difficulty in identifying something that provides purpose and meaning to their lives.

Major life transitions, such as, leaving home and going away to college exacerbates existing psychological problems or triggers new ones. Leaving family and friends to this, adds up depression and/or increases anxiety.

Colleges are not equipped to be mental health centers.  Most colleges  need to refer students to long-term care, if their mental health issues are extensive. Some issues can be cared for at the counseling center of the school. Some colleges have successful suicide prevention programmes where they are required to undergo mandatory assessment and services. Unfortunately, suicide prevention programmes only exist in a few communities.

In the United States, suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 14 to 25 years, according to Maureen Dasey-Morales, a psychologist from Wichita State University.

Dasey-Morales advised that people who suspect someone they know is having suicidal thoughts should not hesitate to get involved. “One of the biggest myths about suicide is that asking somebody if they’re thinking about hurting themselves will increase the risk of it happening,” she said in a university news release. “And in fact, asking is one of the main things somebody can do to prevent suicide from happening.”

Another falsehood is that these at-risk teens and young adults are weak or selfish, noted Dasey-Morales. “The reality is that most people who are thinking about hurting themselves feel like others would be better off without them or that somehow there isn’t a way out for them, and so part of helping them is to instill hope,” she said.

When a young person is contemplating suicide, Dasey-Morales pointed out; there are a number of red flags others may notice, including:

Withdrawal from friends and usual activities

Mood swings

Plotting to hurt one

Abusing alcohol and other drugs

Expressing the wish to die or escape


The most important thing, Dasey-Morales concluded, is that young people having thoughts of suicide should not struggle alone, and they should be made aware of the options available to them to get help.

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