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49% of college students experience symptoms of depression
73% of students who suffer from a mental illness don't seek help

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College x Mental Health 

College x Mental Health
Suicide and Warning Signs

In a recent national survey, over 10% of college students reported that they seriously considered suicide over the past year.

College students live a unique life. Many of them live far away from their friends and family and what they are comfortable with, many are taking on huge class work loads with very little time for anything other than school, many face peer pressure and the need to fit in, and many deal with depression, anxiety, self harm, and eating disorders all while trying to study, do homework, and complete internships. All of this mixed together can add a lot of stress onto a young person and unfortunately, this stress may lead to feelings of isolation, depression, and suicidal ideation. Being able to identify the warning signs of a suicidal college student can save their life.

Recognizing Warning Signs


The warning signs below indicate that the individual is severely struggling and needs immediate intervention:

  • Feelings of loneliness and hopelessness

  • Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge

  • Increased alcohol/drug use and substance abuse

  • Withdrawing from family and friends/not involved in school activities when individual used to be

  • Anxiety and agitation

  • Inability to sleep or sleeping too much

  • Dramatic mood changes

  • Expressing feelings that life is meaningless or that there is no reason to live/making suicidal threats

  • Insomnia

  • Feeling desperate or trapped

  • Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life

  • Remember: The risk of suicide may be greatest as the person's depression begins to lift

Certain behaviors can also serve as warning signs, particularly when they are not characteristic of the person's normal behavior. These include:

  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities

  • Engaging in violent or self-destructive behavior

  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and society


College students may act in different ways when dealt large amounts of stress partly because of their age and partly because of their unique schedule and life as a college student. For many students, the first warning sign is pulling out of activities they once liked and pulling away from friends and roommates. The below warning signs are pulled from Western Michigan University and were created to showcase how college students may act when suicidal and/or struggling.

  • A suddenly worsening school performance. Good students who suddenly start ignoring assignments and cutting classes may have problems-including depression or drug and alcohol abuse-that can affect their health and happiness and put them at risk of suicide.

  • Unhealthy peer relationships. Students who don't have friends, or suddenly reject their friends, may be at risk. A friend who suddenly rejects you, claiming, "You just don't understand me any more," may be having emotional problems.

  • Indications that the student is in an abusive relationship. Some young people may be physically or emotionally abused by a member of their family or their girlfriend or boyfriend. Signs that a person may be in an abusive relationship include unexplained bruises or other injuries that he or she refuses to discuss.

  • Signs of an eating disorder. An eating disorder is an obvious sign that someone needs help. A dramatic change in weight that is not the result of a medically supervised diet may also indicate that something is wrong.

  • Difficulty in adjusting to sexual/gender identity. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered young people have higher suicide attempt rates than their heterosexual peers. These youth may be faced with social pressures that make life very difficult.

  • Depression. Depression is an emotional problem that increases a person's risk of suicide. The following signs indicate that someone may be depressed:

    • Withdrawal from friends and extracurricular activities

    • A sudden, unexplained decline in enthusiasm and energy

    • Overreaction to criticism

    • Lowered self-esteem, or feelings of guilt

    • Indecision, lack of concentration, and forgetfulness/Restlessness and agitation

    • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns

    • Unprovoked episodes of crying

    • Sudden neglect of appearance and hygiene

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