Ten Percent of College Students Considered Suicide During Previous Year
WebMD News Archive
Increased suicide risk was noted in some ethnic groups, such as Asians,
Pacific Islanders, American Indians, or Alaskan natives. Students who lived
with a spouse or domestic partner were less likely to consider suicide than
those who lived alone, with roommates or friends, or with parents or guardians.
Fraternity and sorority members were also less likely to think about suicide.
Suicidal ideation did not vary by gender or parents' education. "[T]hese
findings offer some support for previous research showing that social support
is often an important protective factor against suicidal behavior," writes
"Our take-home message is that colleges and universities should
establish suicide prevention programs that address the related problems of
substance use or improve upon existing programs. The CDC recommends that
programs should rely on multiple prevention strategies because we don't know
what actually works in terms of suicide prevention," Brener tells
Keith King, PhD, a researcher in adolescent suicide prevention at the
University of Cincinnati, sees physicians as part of a triangle of resources to
identify and prevent adolescent suicide, including the community, family and
friends, and the school. In an interview seeking objective commentary, King
tells WebMD that "It is imperative that physicians know the warning signs
and risk factors of suicide. Warning signs include talking about suicide,
giving things away, being depressed or lethargic, losing interest in
once-pleasurable activities, and becoming isolated. Risk factors include
substance use, being female, easy access to handguns, and feeling lonely and
In his experience, Keith has found that while a professional may know the
risk factors of suicide, identifying a child at risk often proves to be
difficult. "The reality is that there are many of these adolescents who
visit a physician who could be helped if the physician knew the warning signs
of suicide and follows-up on them."
- Suicide is the third-leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds, and
a survey of college students shows that 10% admit to seriously considering
- Those who consider suicide are significantly more likely to engage in risk
behaviors, such as cigarette smoking; episodic heavy drinking; marijuana,
cocaine, or other illegal drug use; or a combination of such behaviors.
- Students who live with a spouse or domestic partner, or who belong to a
sorority or fraternity, are less likely to think about suicide.