After vehicular accidents, suicide is the leading cause of death among college students. Each year, an estimated one in 10,000 college students will successfully commit suicide, while an estimated 11.4 percent of all students have or will seriously consider it. In 1998, suicide killed more young adults than AIDS, cancer, heart disease, pneumonia, birth defects, stroke, influenza and chronic lung disease combined, averaging 12 people aged 15-24 each day.

“That’s old news,” you might say. But is it? Despite decades of knowledge and awareness of the disturbing rates of suicide among young adults, the suicide rate for 15-24-year-olds has increased by over 200 percent in the last 50 years. There’s one obvious question that remains – why? Surveys have shown that adults who commit suicide have impulsive, high risk-taking personalities and an increased tendency to abuse drugs or alcohol.

In contrast, victims of college suicide tend to be quiet, socially isolated and depressed. These young people do not abuse alcohol or drugs and draw little attention to themselves. Lacking close and meaningful relationships, many of these students go about their mundane campus lives virtually unnoticed.

In many ways, this topic is simply too big to effectively cover in one CT article.

A smattering of statistics and disconcerting information does not begin to crack the surface of this nationwide calamity.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call 1-800-SUICIDE or visit Don’t take chances – you only get one life.

Newman works in the Health Promotion Office of the University Health Service and can be reached at

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