Talking about suicide openly

Higher rates of suicide among college students during finals need to be addressed.

Come finals time, a hemp rope or cold, hard water five stories below a bridge become more than props or passing scenery and turn into solutions to the pressures of social and academic life.

Sadly, suicide becomes a viable option for some students. Financial pressure, a broken relationship, deadlines and anxiety concerning the future can turn the life of spring semester finals into a tragic death.

Robin Holmes, University of Oregon counseling and testing director, said the overall suicide rate for adolescents has tripled during the last 60 years. Suicide is the third leading factor among 15- to 24-year-olds in the United States.

A study headed by a professor at the University of Iowa’s College of Education suggests suicide rates among college students might be going up.

Thankfully, the stigma surrounding mental illnesses, depression and counseling has dissipated during the last few decades.

To his credit, President George W. Bush has authorized the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act and funded it with $82 million to disperse among college mental-health centers across the nation during a three-year period.

There is good news in that many of the disorders that speed the path toward suicide, such as substance abuse, eating disorders and depression, are treatable. With suicide remaining a serious problem and numbers not going down, we are left with a problem similar to world hunger. Food is readily available worldwide; the problem is distribution for the most part.

In the case of suicide, information is plentiful, but its availability through the Internet and other resources could be improved. Counselors sit in offices and remain, on some levels, disconnected from students. Universities can help suicide rates decrease by providing rapid access to care. Additionally, involving more students in the process of getting students from the point of help to the helper is also necessary.

Lastly, communication about suicide between students and teachers can help spread the word that help is available. No final exam or insurance bill is more valuable than human life.