Tess Hemmila – Staff Writer
Suicide affects the lives of thousands of people across the nation. Because of the far-reaching repercussions of suicide, September is dedicated as National Suicide Prevention Month.
Suicide rates in the United States have been on the rise for years. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the United States suicide rate has increased by over 28 percent in the last 20 years. Because of this rising number, suicide is listed by the CDC as the tenth leading cause of death in the US.
The statistics are even more staggering for the college demographic. According to the American Association of Suicidology, Suicide was the second leading cause of death for young adults, 15 to 24 years old, in the United States as of 2016. Losing out only to accidental injuries for the leading cause of death, suicide has taken the lives of tens of thousands of young adults in the last decade. According to the College Degree Search Network, approximately 1,100 college students commit suicide every year, that comes out to roughly 7.5 per 100,000 students.
College students are no stranger to pressure; many students are trying to decide on a life-long career and are facing constant pressure to succeed in their classes. With the stressful demands of college life, it is not uncommon for students to neglect their mental health or to write off their concerns. Unfortunately, some students feel that they will be judged for their mental health struggles or choose to ignore their issues all together.
According to social work Professor Tara Boer, one way to confront suicide and mental health issues is to start honest conversations around campus.
“There’s a lot of stigma about mental health for various reasons. If students are willing to be vulnerable and share their connected struggles, it’s possible that we could overcome that stigma,” said Boer.
Students around campus can help prevent suicide by learning the warning signs that someone is struggling with their mental health. Some of the most common signs include: drastic change in appearance, sudden loss of interest in hobbies, withdrawing from friends or social situations, and loss of appetite.
Students can help support their friends by being open in conversation and by monitoring for warning signs, but it is also important for students to know their boundaries. Ideally, a student who is feeling unstable should be sent to Dordt’s counselors in student health to get help from a mental health professional.
According to psychology professor Mark Christians, it is crucial that people know when they are out of their depth and tell someone.
“Know your limitations,” said Christians. “As a friend, you can only provide a certain amount of support. If someone you know is an immediate danger to themselves, ready to take their own life, don’t feel like you can talk them out of it. Just call 911 right away.”
- If you are struggling with your mental health, you can set up an appointment with student health through DCC or call (712)-722-6990
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255