1-800-273-TALK – every college student should know this number

By Dr. Micaela Wexler


34,000 people die from suicide in this country every year; 1100 of them are college students. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students.

With these statistics, why isn’t the number to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK, easily accessible to every college student?

For every person who dies from suicide, 6-7 are left behind with deep lasting pain. For college students, that number is much higher, especially for high functioning students “who had everything to live for.” Students who are bright and popular leave a frightening and persistent feeling of confusion in their fellow students, even in those they had never met personally. When Kyle Ambrogi committed suicide at U Penn October 2005, his team mates were unable to focus, and lost four consecutive games, giving U Penn its first 5-loss season in 6 years.

For me as a psychiatrist it is a tragedy that in an environment such as a university, with so many resources and knowledge, the information about mental health treatment and it’s effectiveness remains elusive. My work has brought me into contact with many suicide attempt survivors who emphasize to me the life saving power of treatment. There is a way to make the pain go away. There are therapies and medications that really do work.

Sadly, most college students do not know where to turn for help. Others fall prey to the stigma of mental illness that persists, even at universities where mental health professionals are trained. They are afraid to seek help for fear they will appear weak, or will suffer consequences, such as loss of friendships, or expulsion from organizations, or even expulsion from school.

The pain of suicide is too great for this to continue. The death of a college student to suicide is a tragic loss for our society as a whole. All students should have 1-800-273-TALK, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, written on their bathroom mirror. Students and professors should know the warning signs for suicide: IS PATH WARM (Ideation, Substance Abuse, Purposelessness, Anxiety, Trapped, Hopelessness, Withdrawal, Anger, Recklessness, Mood Swings).

The reasons behind suicide are varied and complex. College students should know that this is a preventable cause of death. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is a good resource for those who have been affected by suicide and want to know the “why” behind this painful event, as well as steps we can all take to prevent such future tragedies.
Early diagnosis beneficial in AD
Appointment information for Dr. Micaela Wexler: wexlerpsych.com

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