Suicide a leading cause of death among college students

Suicide awareness on campus, on tour

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Take Action Tour, which visited D.C. Saturday, stresses the same message as many health care professionals - that it is imperative for students to be aware of the options available to them if they feel depressed or suicidal.

Dr. Wanda Collins, coordinator of Outreach and Consultation at AU, said that "people who have mood disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, who are isolated, and people with a history of suicidal behavior" are at the greatest risk of committing suicide.

"The most important thing for someone with suicidal thoughts to do is to speak with a professional and get an assessment. [Typically] people are offered individual or group therapy and medication," Collins said.Many students feel overwhelmed in college, especially as freshmen, and the culture shock caused by attending college is so great that people are susceptible to depression, according to the National Mental Health Association.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students, according to a study by the American Federation for Suicide Prevention. The president of the foundation, Dr. J. John Mann, said, "It is extremely important to develop a program for universities that will help to identify at-risk students, encourage appropriate treatment and prevent suicide."

At AU, there are myriad options available to students who may be feeling overwhelmed, depressed, suicidal, or just in need of someone to talk to.

Students can contact the Counseling Center (x3500) and set up an appointment, or they can check out the counseling centers' Web site, which allows students to anonymously research an array of problems, including suicide and depression, as well as to take self-quizzes that will assess their state of mental health.

In fact, some students feel that the University, as well as the D.C. metropolitan area itself, are good places to relieve stress because of the number of outlets available.

"When people at AU become depressed, it helps to be surrounded by so many people with so many different perspectives," junior Kieran Evans said. "AU encourages students to get out in the community and D.C., which helps students not be overwhelmed."

AU has had very few incidents involving suicide within the last five years. There was a suicide attempt two years ago that left a student in the hospital with injuries.

Dwight Allen, manager of Police Services for AU, said, "While there have been other incidents, such as [verbal] threats and [physical] attempts, since the installation of the new computer system in September of 1998, there have been no reported completed suicides here at AU"

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