top of page

College Students: Suicide Risk Factors

Main Risk Factors:

History of family depression and/or suicide
History o
f abuse
History of previous suicide attempts
Mental health problem that is untreated e.g., depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety
Access to firearms or other lethal methods
Isolation from family and/or spiritual community
Prejudice, racial tension, discrimination, or inter-cultural conflict
A recent loss (e.g. death or break-up)
Poverty and under- or unemployment
Concerns about mental health stigma
Experiences of hopelessness and helplessness
Feelings of alienation, loneliness, guilt, shame, or inadequacy
Conflict with others or feeling misunderstood
Behaviors that are impulsive or aggressive
Absence of interpersonal attachments
Feelings of worthlessness
A new educational system
Language barriers
Homesickness and culture shock
Fears about seeking help for depression or suicidal thoughts
Academic problems (e.g., failing courses, missing classes, inattentiveness)

Circumstances That Increase Suicide Risk:

Individual Risk Factors

These personal factors contribute to risk:

  • Previous suicide attempt

  • History of depression and other mental illnesses

  • Serious illness such as chronic pain

  • Criminal/legal problems

  • Job/financial problems or loss

  • Impulsive or aggressive tendencies

  • Substance use

  • Current or prior history of adverse childhood experiences

  • Sense of hopelessness

  • Violence victimization and/or perpetration

Relationship Risk Factors

These harmful or hurtful experiences within relationships contribute to risk:

  • Bullying

  • Family/loved one’s history of suicide

  • Loss of relationships

  • High conflict or violent relationships

  • Social isolation

Community Risk Factors

These challenging issues within a person’s community contribute to risk:

  • Lack of access to healthcare

  • Suicide cluster in the community

  • Stress of acculturation

  • Community violence

  • Historical trauma

  • Discrimination

Societal Risk Factors

These cultural and environmental factors within the larger society contribute to risk:

  • Stigma associated with help-seeking and mental illness

  • Easy access to lethal means of suicide among people at risk

  • Unsafe media portrayals of suicide

bottom of page