The second leading cause of death among college students might not be what you expect. It’s not am illness or murder, but suicide. While this issue is often stigmatized and glossed over, Eastern Michigan University has been taking steps to try to help the students who need it.
“About 10 percent of college students seriously consider suicide each year,” Dr. Lisa Lauterbach, director of Counseling and Psychological Services, said.
Many who follow through with these considerations do so because of reasons that could have been helped.
“Ninety percent of completed suicides have the underlying problem of a mental health issue,” Lauterbach said. “It’s usually depression or alcohol abuse. Finals or stresses aren’t the heart of the problem.”
There are many issues that go with the cause, but one that may keep people from coming in to seek the help they need is the stigma that goes with it.
“The top three reasons students come see us are depression, anxiety and relationship problems,” she said. “But there is that idea that if you have a mental health problem, you’re crazy. It keeps people from coming in.
“We can all help by making it OK for our friends to go to therapy or take medication if it’s needed.”
There are plenty of ways students can help their friends or themselves when dealing with the issue of depression and suicide.
On campus services include CAPS, which is free to all students, and students can go online to www.jedfoundation.org, a foundation set up by the family of a college student who committed suicide that is geared toward college students.
Also, if you are feeling stressed, CAPS recommends you reach out to others for support, think through possible solutions, try to anticipate stress and learn ways to reduce it, find outlets for expressing feelings and make time for pleasurable things.
If students are showing some of the signs of suicide like talking about it, withdrawing from friends or activities, depression, changes in personality, behaviors or personal appearance, giving away possessions, writing a suicide note, dwelling on a relationship or setback or substance abuse, there are many things friends can do to help.
This includes saying you care and listening to them, asking about suicide, encouraging them to seek professional help, helping them consider alternatives and considering telling relatives, friends or a counselor.
“Don’t keep it a secret,” Lauterbach said. “Tell somebody, a professor, a parent. It’s better to keep a friend alive, even if they’re mad at you rather then them taking their life.”
The ultimate goal of CAPS or anyone you go to will be to keep you or your friend alive, well and happy.
“The university pays us to be here for college students,” she said. “That’s what we do.”
If you or someone you know is depressed or thinking about suicide, call 1-800-TALK, 1-800-SUICIDE, CAPS at 734-4870-1118 or the University of Michigan Psychiatric Emergency Room at 734-996-4747.