Harvard Mental Health Letter

In brief: Suicidal thoughts in college

In brief

Suicidal thoughts in college

At the American Psychological Association meeting in August 2008, researchers at the University of Texas, Austin, reported that 6% of undergraduates and 4% of graduate students who responded to an Internet-based survey said they had seriously considered suicide at some point in the previous year. Fewer than half of these students told anyone or sought professional help.

Although suicide attempts were uncommon (made by fewer than 1% of students), the nationwide survey, completed by 26,000 students at 70 colleges and universities, suggests that colleges may need to broaden outreach efforts. The authors recommend that colleges involve multiple constituencies — administrators, faculty, student leaders, and parents, as well as mental health clinicians — to find ways to identify and help students at risk.

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