After accidents and homicides, suicide is the third leading cause of death among young adults ages 15-24. No gender, racial, ethnic or socio-economic group is immune from this phenomena. Men are more likely to commit suicide than women. They usually use violent means to end their own lives. Females, on the other hand, are more likely to attempt suicide; they usually use drugs or poison to try and end their lives. You should note that a suicide attempt is a "cry for help" and a request for social support. The suicidal person is letting his/her feelings be known. His/her problems seem overwhelming and too difficult to handle.
Why do College Students Kill Themselves?
Because each individual is unique there is no single reason as to why a student commits suicide. However, there are several factors that may contribute to a student having suicidal thoughts.
- Feeling overwhelmed with school and many changes.
- Loneliness caused by moving to a new town or school, loss of a loved one, or breaking up with a boyfriend/girlfriend.
- Hopelessness, or helplessness in feeling that problems in living seem more than one can bear and no one seems to care or help.
- Worthlessness or feelings of being a failure caused by not doing well in school, or by failing in social areas that are of interest.
- Alcohol and substance abuse can cause a student to lose self control and engage in impulsive suicidal behaviors.
- Concerns about sexual orientation and sexual relationships, traumatic experiences, chronic continuous conflict with parents, depression and other emotional difficulties.
Myths and Facts About Suicide
MYTH: Once a student decides to commit suicide, there is nothing you can do.
FACT: Most students who are suicidal do not want to die.
MYTH: Asking a student if he/she is thinking about suicide will put the idea into his/her head.
FACT: Discussing the problem openly shows the suicidal student that someone cares and wants to help.
MYTH: There is no way of stopping him/her.
FACT: Students who attempt suicide are making a "cry for help".
MYTH: Suicide happens without warning.
FACT: About 75% of the people who attempt or commit suicide have shown warning signs.
MYTH: Students who commit suicide are mentally ill.
FACT: Suicidal students are not necessarily mentally ill. They simply lack the support they need and feel like they have no other options.
There are verbal and non-verbal warning signs of suicide that will let you know that your classmate or friend is crying for help.
NON-VERBAL warning signs:
- Boredom, restlessness and loss of concentration
- Giving away valued possessions
- Increased alcohol or drug use
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Lack of interest in personal appearance
- Lack or interest in friends
- Having difficulty adjusting to the loss of a relationship
- Poor performance in school
- Constant irritability
- Excessive feelings of guilt
- Inability or refusal to trust in others
Please note that many of these warning signs are signs of depression. Depression does not necessarily mean that a person is contemplating suicide, but depressed people often think of suicide.
VERBAL warning signs:
- Instructors, classmates, families and friends do not care.
- Life isn't worthwhile.
- People are better off without me.
- Everything seems to be going wrong.
- I can't go on any longer.
Ways to Help
- Take all suicidal threats seriously.
- Do not challenge suicidal remarks such as, "If you feel that bad, go ahead and do it" or "You'll never do anything like that."
- Remain calm and understanding.
- Try not to analyze a person's motive with comments such as, "You are feeling bad because..."
- Talk openly and freely and ask direct questions about the student's intention.
- Be reassuring that problems can be solved, but do not offer false assurance or try to "cheer up" the person. Many times this comes across as you needing assurances and may cause the other person to feel less accepted and understood.
- Listen to what is said and treat it seriously. Do not add to your friend/classmate's guilt by debating, arguing or lecturing about whether or not suicide is right or wrong.
- NEVER leave a suicidal student alone.
- Encourage the student to seek help from Student Counseling Services or some other counseling agency. Volunteer to accompany the student to counseling.
- Get help immediately.
In the event of an emergency, contact
the WTAMU University Police Department at 806.651.2300
the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 806.359.6699 or 1.800.692.4039