Combating the Mental Health Crisis on America's College Campuses

  Saturday, November 20, 2021

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), suicide is defined as death caused by self-infliction of injury or harm with the intent of death. A suicide attempt is a non-fatal, self-directed, possibly harmful behavior that is carried out with the intention of dying as an end result of the behavior. It's possible that a suicide attempt won't end in injuries.

Suicidal ideation is the act of considering, contemplating, or planning suicide. 

Unfortunately, suicide is a horror that many of us are familiar with in some form or another. We may know people that have committed suicide, tried to, or contemplated, and tried it ourselves. It is an ever-growing monstrous epidemic that seems to be scaling to new heights due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whenever we try to investigate why someone takes their own life, our answers are always harrowing. Over the past few years, cases of college students committing suicide because of undue stress, anxiety, or depression have grown. 

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), suicide was the tenth highest cause of death in the United States, with over 47,500 persons dying by suicide. Suicide was the second biggest cause of mortality among those aged 10 to 34 and the fourth most significant cause of death among people aged 35 to 44. These statistics are concerning on so many levels.

There needs to be a bigger outpour into the research for the prevention of suicide contemplation amongst college students by focusing on better mental health practices by colleges and governments combined, especially when all of us may be away from friends and family due to successive lockdowns.

Cases Of Suicide Among College Students [TW: Suicide] 

The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill has postponed classes for Tuesday while authorities investigate the death of a student and an attempted suicide over the weekend. Early Sunday morning, campus police responded to attempted suicide. Another student was found deceased in a residence hall on Saturday. 

The college years are when people are more vulnerable to various mental health (MH) issues. During this stage of development, the onset of common psychiatric disorders occurs. Increases in sadness, anxiety, and suicidality have been found among college students in the United States. This study discovered the incidence and correlations of mental health diagnoses and suicidality.

For many of these young individuals, it is their first time away from home and friends. They're living with strangers, far away from their support networks, and working under duress, with disturbed sleeping, eating, and exercise patterns. It's difficult to imagine a more stressful environment, especially when depression or other mental health disorders are involved.

Depression can also be a comorbidity to present mental health issues such as substance abuse, addiction, anxiety, or even personality disorders.

According to a recent survey of more than 67,000 college students from more than 100 institutions published, one in every five students has considered suicide, with 9% attempting suicide and over 20% reporting self-injury. 1 out of every 4 students has been diagnosed with a mental condition.

Times of COVID-19

Things are turning out to be worse, especially now since COVID-19 has come into play. It has taken a heavy toll on everyone, even more so on college students. According to the paper, children and young adults who are isolated from friends, school, and healthcare staff seeing thousands of patients infected with and dying from the new coronavirus, are all vulnerable to emotional anguish.

COVID-19's impact on mental health is already being shown in new studies and surveys around the world. Children are worried, according to psychologists, and increases in cases of depression and anxiety have been reported in various nations.

Risk Factors of Rising Suicide Rates In College Students

 The following are the critical risk factors for teen and adolescent suicide that have been identified:

  • A previous attempt at suicide
  • Lack of support and a sense of loneliness
  • Having access to a method of suicide
  • Problems with impulsivity
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Illness of the body
  • Ineffective coping mechanisms
  • Severe personality problems
  • Problems with substance abuse
  • Life occurrences that are traumatic or upsetting

There are also several warning signs that one may look for in a pre-emptive attempt to gauge suicidal behavior: 

  • Academic performance is deteriorating.
  • Depression and mood swings are common.
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety or anxiety caused by a preoccupation with dying
  • Anger or rage that is out of control
  • Taking part in high-risk activities
  • I'm separating myself from my friends and family.
  • Disregarding personal hygiene and attractiveness
  • An increase in the usage of alcohol or drugs
  • donating prized possessions

Social Media - A Gigantic Risk Factor 

We talked about other risk factors that lead to contemplating suicide. However, there is one huge risk factor that does not seem to see the spotlight. According to a study, mindlessly and continuously using social media or having an online presence has been linked to developing depression. This is because social media is a significant contributor to anxiety, not to mention that most cyberbullying occurs on social media. 

Within six months, young adults who used social media more often were considerably more likely to develop depression. Young adults that are on their phones more than 300 minutes per day of social media were more likely to become sad after six months than those who used less than 120 minutes per day.

It's unclear why people who only spend 30 minutes per day on social media are found to be less depressed. Still, researchers believe it's because they were spared from seeing content that might make them feel bad about themselves, such as a friend's beach vacation, grad school acceptance letter, or a happy family. Seeing photographs or posts of people who appear to have "perfect" lives on social media might make users feel like they don't measure up.

Before the advent of social media and the internet, most children's concerns were limited to bullying on school grounds. On the other hand, bullies have a new means of tormenting their victims because of social media.

Bullies can send a video of their target being ridiculed, beaten up, or otherwise humiliated around the world with only one click. People can swarm a peer's social media page and leave nasty remarks or distribute false information. Bullying victims have taken their own lives in several instances.

Journaling - A Worthy Substitute for Social Media 

Journal therapy, often known as journal writing therapy or just writing therapy, is a type of treatment that involves keeping a journal. It comprises the therapeutic use of journaling activities and prompts to raise awareness and treat mental illnesses. Internal and external disputes can both contribute to these settings. It's the deliberate and purposeful use of reflective writing to improve mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

How interior events, ideas, and feelings are recorded differs significantly between journal therapy and maintaining a notebook. Journal therapy enables a person to write down, discuss, and assess their problems and concerns. Hence why we are recommending it as a substitute for using social media. 

Dear Reader, we want YOU to take on a one-month detox from social media. During that time, we want you to take up journaling. This exercise will prove to change your life. 

Will It Work? 

Spending time on social media is a waste of time. Endless scrolling of algorithmically picked information, postings that appear to be either full of burning hatred at anything, or meticulously planned and polished photographs to represent a "wonderful" life that is most likely just a thin veneer over a mundane existence... just like yours.

This poisons our thoughts, instilling anxiety of not keeping up with different celebrities and mistrust in ourselves, our bodies, and our life choices. Worse, it invites us to add our snark, knee-jerk emotions, and instant judgments to the mix. It's all just adding to the meaningless static. It also breeds anxiety and contributes to feelings of depression. 

Instead of posting your modified and politically correct thoughts on social media for a month, pen them down in a journal. You'll feel lighter and won't have to worry about anyone judging you on those thoughts since you're the only one that can see them. 

You can begin by signing up now to our website to keep a daily online journal. 

We can all play our part in preventing suicide. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free and confidential help to persons in distress 24/7, as well as preventative and crisis resources for you or a loved one, as well as best practices for professionals in the United States. If you or someone you know is suffering through thoughts of suicide, please reach out for help. 

 

Health Disclaimer

JournalOwl is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, medication, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptoms or conditions. JournalOwl is not authorized to make recommendations about medication or serve as a substitute for professional advice. You should never disregard professional psychological or medical advice, or delay in seeking treatment, based on anything you read on JournalOwl’s website or platform.

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