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Depression at College

What to do if you or someone you know is considering suicide at college.

Loneliness combined with the stress of being in college and in a new country can make you at times feel gloomy and sad. However, don’t let those feelings spiral into depression and thoughts of suicide at college.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds, and the second leading cause among 25- to 34-year-olds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 1,100 suicides occur on campuses each year, says the Center for College Health and Safety.

Be able to recognize the signs that you or a friend might be suicidal, and don’t be afraid to ask for help immediately.

Signs and Risk Factors of Suicide

Signs that you or someone you know is thinking about suicide include:

  • threatening to kill oneself
  • talking or writing about death or suicide
  • increasing use of drugs or alcohol
  • frequent changes in mood
  • feeling hopeless or angry
  • withdrawing into oneself

Risk factors include:

  • a family history of mental illness, violence or suicide
  • depression
  • stress
  • a prior suicide attempt
  • feeling out of control
  • not being able to think clearly or make decisions

What to Do to Prevent Suicide at College

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to speak to someone or to find a local referral. It is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and all calls are free and confidential.

Other options are to contact a local mental health agency, a therapist or your college counseling center.

If someone you know is thinking about suicide at college, don’t leave that person alone. Call the lifeline or 911 and get rid of anything that the person could use to harm himself or herself. That includes medicines.

If you suspect a friend is thinking about suicide at college, ask that person about it. Be available to talk, and don’t forget to be a good listener. However, don’t promise to keep it a secret. You may need to seek help for that person.

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Adjusting to college life is stressful. Going to college in a different country, away from family and long-time friends, may be even more difficult. Suicides at college – especially ones at prestigious, high-profile colleges – often come coupled with news that the student was having trouble in the classroom. Don’t let that be you.

If you are feeling particularly stressed about your coursework, talk to an academic adviser. If personal problems are affecting your mood, speak to a therapist or other professional. Students should feel no shame in asking for help if they are suffering from depression at college.