Half of college students consider suicide
Survey finds widespread problem demands new approach to treatment
msnbc.com and NBC News
AUSTIN, Texas — More than half of American college students have considered suicide at some points in their lives, a new survey reveals.
The survey, results of which were presented Sunday at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association in Boston, adds to the growing body of evidence that the prevalence of suicidal thoughts is far more widespread among America’s college students than it is among the population in general. By contrast, only 15.3 percent of Americans overall have had such thoughts, the World Health Organization’s World Mental Health Survey Initiative reported in February.
The survey, part of a wider-ranging continuing study on student suicidal behaviors being conducted by David Drum, a professor of education psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, questioned 26,000 undergraduate and graduate students at 70 U.S. institutions. The results raise the startling suggestion that suicidal thoughts could be a common experience on par with substance abuse, depression and eating disorders, Drum said.
The survey defined considering suicide as having at least one episode of suicidal thinking at some point. Slightly more than half of students said they fit that category, which is known as suicide ideation. When researchers asked about more serious episodes, 15 percent said they had “seriously considered” attempting suicide.