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The teenage and young adult years have increasingly become a very stressful time. Up until about 50 years ago, high school was considered by many to be the best years of life, unsurpassed except for those fortunate enough to attend college.
But today, the suicide rate for people between 15 and 24 years of age has tripled since the 1950s. With so many more opportunities available now and so many more young adults attending college, it’s hard to imagine how this can be, until you take a closer look at the numbers in the infographic below by College Degree Research.
In the 1950s, there were only 7.5 suicides per 100,000 students. Today, 1 in 12 students have made a suicide plan.
The biggest reasons for suicidal thoughts are from depression and stress about things like competition among students, high tuition costs, and the economy.
Some of the risk factors that contribute to suicidal thoughts include a family history of suicide, mental health problems and substance abuse issues.
A list of common suicide warning signs includes:
- Trouble eating or sleeping
- Radical changes in behavior
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Loss of interest in school or hobbies
- Giving away possessions
- Lack of interest in physical appearance
Friends and family should recognize the warning signs of depression and suicide, and be proactive at making attempts to discuss and take action. Concerned parents can pay extra attention to stay in touch with their child away at college.
The following are good suggestions for taking action against depression among college students:
- Send care packages
- Visit in person from time to time
- Chat regularly by phone, email, text or Skype
- Be sensitive to signs of stress and use a calming voice or tone
- Make sure they are getting enough sleep, exercise, and are eating well
Depression and anxiety are more problematic now than in previous decades and they are hitting people at younger ages than ever before. It’s one thing to have bouts of depression, but another thing when they lead to suicide. Even if problems persist and they don’t lead to suicide, young adults can be more susceptible to substance abuse problems that might last long into their adult years. Substance abuse combined with mental health issues can result in a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder.
Recognizing the warning signs and taking action early can have positive outcomes. For young adults, life should be just beginning, not ending.