Report: Stress "strongly associated" with suicide on campus
- A new study states that the troubling suicide rate at colleges and universities is often a result of stress, and that while students generally don't seek treatment often enough, those in minority groups are even less likely to address mental health concerns.
- The report published in the journal Depression and Anxiety is based on a survey of more than 67,000 students across 108 institutions. It noted that the college years represent a period of increased vulnerability for a wide range of mental health issues for young adults, and that the onset of common psychiatric conditions often occurs during this period.
- The report found stress was "strongly associated" with suicide attempts and mental health diagnoses. Racial and ethnic minority students were less likely to report mental health diagnoses as compared with white students, although the likelihood for suicidality was mixed. Bisexual students were more likely to report serious emotional issues and suicidality as compared to heterosexual and gay and lesbian students.
The researchers suggested that colleges need to find ways to help learners reduce stress and provide better and more mental health services, echoing similar recommendations voiced late last year in response to campus suicides. National research indicates that one in 12 students has a suicide plan and that two thirds who are struggling don't get assistance.
The reductions in counseling and psychiatric services at the K-12 level and an increasing burden on those professionals in schools has meant more students are coming to college with mental health concerns that haven't been addressed. A 2016 report found that one in five secondary school students is dealing with a unaddressed mental health issue.
Bolstering college and K-12 mental health services can help. Another study found that college students who have a forum to talk about mental heath are more likely to reach out to peers struggling with issues such as depression or anxiety in a way that reduces the stigma around the topic.