September is National Suicide Prevention Month – organizations and individuals across the United States and world raise awareness for suicide prevention.
Since suicide is a major concern for campuses across the United States, colleges and universities should review the available mental health resources and look at different ways to address the issue. The stigma surrounding suicide on campus may be half the battle - students are often embarrassed about any mental health issues or ashamed of it.
Stigma is a grave concern on campus because it can prevent students from receiving the care they may need.
To fully understand student suicide and the scope of it, let's review some statistics about suicide and 6 effective tips to reduce the stigma of suicide on your campus.
Statistics About Suicide on Campus
Suicide, defined as death caused by self-directed injurious behavior with the intent to die as a result of the behavior, is the second most common cause of death among college students.
Let’s look at a few statistics about student suicide on college and university campuses throughout the U.S.
- Suicide is the second most common cause of death among college students.
- 1,000 students take their lives each year on college campuses.
- More than half of college students have had suicidal thoughts and 10% think about seriously considering attempting suicide.'
- 80-90% of college students who die by suicide were not receiving help from college counseling centers.
As the statistics show, suicide continues to be a prevalent issue on our campuses and the demand for mental health services does not seem to be decreasing. Are campuses doing enough?
The answer isn’t straightforward, and it requires a change in thinking among students as well as faculty and staff. This necessary and important change can be fostered through small improvements on campus.
6 Effective Tips to Reduce the Stigma of Suicide on Your Campus
September is National Suicide Prevention month, and a great time to review your mental health services on campus work to reduce the stigma of suicide on your campus.
If you'd like to view or use the infographic, please click here.
- Host a campus forum to get input from students and faculty on mental health and suicide issues on campus.
- Host campus wellness events, such as "Yoga on the Pavilion," "Massages in the Library," or "Therapy Dogs on Campus." (see here for more ideas!)
- Enforce student, faculty and staff training on mental health awareness, suicide prevention and potential warning signs.
- Make sure to promote healthy studying and learning through particularly stressful times on campus, such as exam week.
- Hire professional and skilled mental health staff for your campus to be advocates for students struggling with mental illness.
- Encourage students to seek out help or to talk to a friend or faculty member if they think they might be suffering from mental illness or thinking about harming themselves.
While you may not be able to entirely solve student mental health issues on your campus or completely reduce the number of students who commit suicide, you can enable students to use the available resources on your campus to live a healthy lifestyle, mentally and physically.
Above all, it’s important to continuously showcase and promote available resources to students throughout the year – especially during stressful times on campus. Remember, if students don’t know about ways to get help, it can result in extreme measures as seen through the statistics above.
How the SafeColleges Training System Can Help
The SafeColleges Training System offers a Youth Suicide: Awareness and Prevention course for campus employees, which provides information from experts on key warning signs of a student who might be in trouble and what they should watch for. Staff will learn the following:
- The scope of the problem with youth suicide.
- Common risk factors related to youth suicide.
- Successful strategies for youth suicide.
- The immediate steps a staff member should take if they encounter a struggling student.
- Best practices for intervention after a suicide.