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Suicide second highest cause of death on campuses

Andres Martinez
According to the American College Health Association, 6 percent of undergraduate and 4 percent of graduate students in four-year institutions have seriously considered suicide.

Suicide, often a silent and very complex human behavioral problem, continues to be a serious problem on college campuses across the nation.

With the rate having tripled since the 1950s, suicide is currently the second-most common cause of death among college students and young adults ages 15-24.

According to the American College Health Association. With 6 percent of undergraduates and 4 percent of graduate students in four-year institutions having seriously considered attempting suicide at one point.

Numbers also shows that one in 10 college students has considered suicide, with females being more likely to attempt suicide compared to males, but with males being three to five times more likely to actually commit suicide.

“You can ask almost any student and almost all of them will tell you the same thing, college can be pretty stressing,” said Bianca Martinez, junior media advertising major. “There can be a lot of factors, such as grades, work or finances that can make things hard for students. So it’s no surprise that sometimes people just get overwhelmed and have to cope with depression, or worse things like suicidal thoughts.”

Although suicide is often seen as the result of untreated mental illnesses, the reality is that most of the time those who commit suicide are victims of preventable human behavior.

“Suicidal people are like you and me, they have problems and we have problems. The difference between us is that, for the moment, we feel we can handle our problems,” said Dr. Jorge Marquez, clinical counselor with the University Counseling Center. “For suicidal people, suicide seems to be a solution to their problems.”

Marquez also points out that suicide can take many forms and that thoughts of suicide can come during times of personal crisis, unrelenting stress, or when we are confronted with a fear of failure or are haunted by an unacceptable loss. Also, although the act of suicide is sometimes an impulsive act, most people will think about suicide for days, weeks, months, or even years before they make an attempt.

Despite being strongly associated with depression, suicide is also associated with brain functions and health.

“It is important to understand that suicidal thoughts are strongly associated with disturbances in brain chemistry and that these changes can be reversed with appropriate biological and psychological treatments. Other emotional and personal problems can trigger suicidal thoughts, but these problems too can be addressed through counseling and support,” Marquez said.

While those who cope with suicidal thoughts must endure a constant struggle within themselves, they also have to face the harsh criticism that follows those who attempt to commit suicide.

“Suicide has a stigma–those who commit it are seen as selfish, didn’t care about others or were weak and just couldn’t keep on fighting–but that’s not the case,” said Rodrigo Lugo, junior biological sciences major and president of To Write Love on Her Arms chapter at UTEP.

Even if such misconstrued views are not the only factor affecting possible suicide victims, Lugo points out that they might be just as dangerous as any other factors, as 80 to 90 percent of college students who die by suicide were not receiving help from their college. Meaning that they did not seek help from a mental health center, a psychiatrist or counselor and possibly didn’t even tell their friends.

All stemming from the fear that if they admit they are struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, they will be perceived as weak by their peers.

“A big part of what we want to do is break that stigma and let people know that depression, or any mental illness, is just an illness like any other,” Lugo said.

At UTEP, various student organizations such as To Write Love on Her Arms, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Campus Collegiate Recovery Program, dedicate their time and efforts to help spread awareness about mental health and offer support to students who may be experiencing distress.

Similarly, UTEP students have access to free and confidential treatment for depression or suicide from the University Counseling Center, located at room 202 in Union West. The UCC has fully licensed and trained counselors, social workers and psychologists who work with registered students, who may be experiencing emotional distress.

“As a mental health professional, I have seen how the stigma of mental illness and suicide has kept people from seeking the healp they need,” Marquez said. “A survivor of suicide can gain support from numerours organizations such as the Sucide Prevention Center, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.”

Alonso Moreno may be reached at [email protected].

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Suicide second highest cause of death on campuses