Suicide Risks and Treatment Options
The risk for suicide may be highest for freshman and graduate students, though the risk for each year of college is significant. Keep your eyes and ears open for any persistent change in your student for the worse. Knowing the warning signs of depression and suicide will be important now and in the future.
Deteriorating relationships or the death of someone important to your student can be key triggers for depression and suicidal thinking, especially for those with a personal or family history of depression. Be closely attentive and supportive if your student suffers the loss of a relationship. While women are more likely to attempt suicide, young men are six times more likely to die by suicide than young women, ages 18 – 24. Men often mask their emotional pain, making it more difficult to recognize depression and suicidal thinking. Men frequently express depression with anger and conflict, increased alcohol and drug use, and physical complaints, and become poorly motivated and productive.
Alcohol and drugs can make your student’s depression and suicidal thinking much worse. Alcohol problems are more common than most college parents realize, with almost 1 in 5 U.S. college students suffering alcohol-related problems last year. Alcohol, itself, accounts for more than 1000 college student deaths a year. More than half of all college suicides involve alcohol or other drugs. Eliminating alcohol and/or drug use is highly recommended for students with depression and/or suicidal thinking
Specific Signs of Suicide Risk Include:
- Seeing no hope for the future
- Having thoughts of death or killing him/herself
- Talking openly or indirectly about ending one’s life
- Taking life-threatening risks
- Giving away personal possessions
- Gaining access to lethal means
- Antidepressant medication
- Eliminating alcohol and drug use
- Re-establishing support from family/friends
- Regular exercise
- Good nutrition and nightly sleep
- Revisiting activities once enjoyed
- Spiritual support
With the right professional assistance and ongoing family and campus support, your student can go on to make the most of his/her college experience.