Last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found an increase in suicide, with causes linked to the 2008 recession. According to the CDC, suicide is the third leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 24 in the US — with firearms, suffocation and poisoning being the most common methods. According to www.suicidology.org, there were 414 reported cases of suicides among ages 15 through 24 in Texas in 2009.
Dr. Chris Scott, associate director and clinical director at Counseling and Psychological Services at UH, says there are verbal, behavioral and situational cues that help outline people who might be experiencing such distress.
“Verbal cues might include an individual saying, ‘I can’t go on, who cares if I’m dead,’ and behavioral cues would be for instance, increases in drug or alcohol abuse.”
Scott said a situational cue would resemble school suspension, and that academic pressure might affect students in more demanding departments like engineering or law.
“Completed suicide rates at UH are comparable to similar-sized universities,” Scott said.
“CDC data showing increased rates among young people: I would have to defer to the CDC epidemiologists on this one. Keep in mind that establishing cause and effect with complex behaviors like suicide attempts (and) completions is difficult.”
However, the data from www.suicidology.org and what Scott said may not give a full picture of the situation at hand.
“One factor would be if a campus is residential or not,” Scott said.
“A commuter campus may not have accurate statistics. The more residential a campus the more people are aware of suicidal ideation or behavior on the part of the student.”
“Families might not always disclose the death of a student as suicide,” said Dr. Kay Brumbaugh, Outreach Coordinator and Psychologist at UH.
UH Counseling and Psychological Services offers training in several sessions and workshops that promote awareness, such as their “Question, Persuade, Refer” Suicide Prevention sessions.
“We do QPR at the request of departments and student organizations. We just finished our biggest training of the year with Student Housing and Residential Life,” Scott said.
“Any student group, college or department can contact me and schedule a (QPR) training session,” Brumbaugh said.
Sept. 9 to 15 is National Suicide Prevention Week, coinciding with World Suicide Prevention Day held on Sept. 10.
For more information visit www.caps.uh.edu.