Across the nation, suicides on university campuses have been steadily increasing since as recently as 2007. The suicide rate for 15- to 24-year-olds has jumped from 9.6 deaths per 100,000 in 2007 to 11.1 per 100,000 in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Studies at The Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State have shown that psychological problems in college counseling centers increased 13 percent in two years, the majority due to anxiety and depression. A staggering 6.6-7.5 percent of college undergrads seriously considered suicide in 2012 according to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.
Every year, over 1,000 college students commit suicide.
The stress of college can often become overwhelming for students on college campuses all across the country and this stress is only exacerbated when students also have to hold down a job, internship, or an extracurricular activity. Dealing with failure can be mind-numbingly painful, particularly when there isn’t a second to breathe. For many students, these experiences can quickly add up and become unbearable.
In addition, along with smart technology comes the rise of jealousy and envy among peers, as we’ve seen in the past decade. What we used to imagine – our peers having a better time than us – has become a false reality that we are forced to deal with on a daily basis. Scrolling through Instagram or Facebook feeds this feeling of inadequacy that many young adults feel, whether or not they have a mental illness.
A large issue preventing many troubled students from seeking help is the stigma surrounding mental health. Although there is already a burgeoning movement to aid in the removal of this stigma through non-profits such as the Bring Change 2 Mind Movement or Each Mind Matters in California, the fact remains that, generally speaking, those with a mental illness in America are at once defined by their mental illness. A person with bi-polar disorder is, to many of us, a bi-polar person.
This issue is particularly relevant to the College of Charleston community with the recent suicide of one of its students. According to Jeri Cabot, Student Life Director at the College, the administration has been focusing on preventative measures for the past few years. The recent Assist Grant updates and promotes the school’s outreach and counselors through training in recognizing the signs of suicide ideation and intervening or directing people. “Basically,” Cabot said, “how to save a life.”
The Cougar Counseling Team is the College’s group of, as they put it, “highly trained volunteers who provide nationally recognized crisis response techniques in a confidential, non-judgmental environment.” The Counseling Team is made up of carefully selected College of Charleston sophomores, juniors, seniors and graduate volunteer students.
The College also has a team of trained professionals available to students, whose aim is to “talk over what is on your mind with an objective person, trained how best to help you sort out your feelings and work with you to establish an effective action plan,” according to the College’s website.
To Cabot, the resources available on College of Charleston’s campus are sufficient to the school’s need. “We have listened to the students,” she explained, “and we haven’t heard that there are not enough resources when we need them.”
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK for 24/7 assistance for those who are worried about themselves or a loved one.