Editorial Comment

Editorial Board

Addressing present epidemic of suicide


One of the greatest dangers to the lives of young people in America is always not the world around them, but rather, it is often the world inside of them.

This is a fact that is not often discussed in public forums. Suicide is currently the second most common cause of death among college students aged 25-34 and third leading cause of death of 15-24-year-olds, according to the American College Health Association.

And this is an issue that is not going away, in fact it is becoming increasingly present in our society.

According to the National College Health Assessment, there’s been a significant increase in the number of students suffering from depression, as it has risen to 40.2 percent last year nationwide from 32.6 percent in 2013.

During that same period, there has been corresponding increase in students thinking about suicide, up to 11.5 percent from 8.1 percent, and those attempting suicide, to 1.7 percent from 1.3 percent, during the same time frame.

These dramatic statistics provide a clear demonstration of the inseparable relationship between mental and physical health. Physical health is not sustainable if it is not supported by a healthy and cared for mind.

College ought to be a time of inspiration and self-discovery for all students. But for many, it is the time where they sink away from their communities and identity into what can seem to be an unreachable abyss.

Universities ought to be using their ability to connect with students to extend support during these times, and offer the support that is so desperately needed.

At times when students are desperate for connection, universities ought to be using their campuses and communities as outreach.

Re-framing the conversation surrounding mental health from one of silence and stigma to terms of love, support and genuine fellowship is crucial if we are to begin to address the mental health epidemic that is still afflicting young Americans, and Americans of all ages.

This restructuring begins at the individual level, with students supporting other students, opening up space for conversation, and directing others toward the resources they need.

Universities then ought to step in to be that link between communal and professional support. Intentionality can create an unknowable amount of difference in a university’s ability to connect with students, especially in the times they most need support.

Change begins by individuals and institutions making the intentional choice to not be afraid of stigma and to enter into fearful or uncomfortable conversations, choosing to see when someone needs help and being willing to provide the support they need.

It is a matter of life and death.