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University strives to combat climbing student-suicide rates
More than 95 people die each day because of suicide, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the number continues to rise.
A recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health has found suicide is now the leading cause of death for Americans, rising 15 percent in the last 10 years. It passed car crashes, which have declined 25 percent as a cause of death.
It is estimated that 1,088 college students die by suicide each year, making it the second leading cause of death for students, behind car crashes.
“Unfortunately, every year we do have some sort of student death that can include suicide, and they are hard to cope with,” Ohio University’s Interim Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones said.
Most recently, OU Chief of Police Andrew Powers said it appears freshman Terrence Ambro’s death was a suicide. Ambro was found dead in his Washington Hall dorm room Sept. 16, but toxicology results regarding his death are still pending.
Hall-Jones said the university takes possible suicides very seriously and reaches out to both students and family.
“We have to interact with students and make sure we connect with them,” she said. “Suicide is something that really affects students; we do everything we can to make sure they get what they need (to deal with the loss).”
Suicide in particular is something OU takes structured steps toward preventing.
At the end of the first semester, students are required to take an involvement survey, which can flag potential dangerous behaviors and help find students who are having a difficult time adjusting to college life, Hall-Jones said.
Haley Trottier, a freshman studying communicative sciences and disorders, dealt with suicide after her 15-year-old cousin killed himself in February.
“I feel like a lot of young people are going through constant phases of changing and being alone,” she said. “If younger kids don’t have someone to lean on, then they can turn to depression.”
Common signs of depression include low energy, no self-worth, withdrawing from others, difficulty thinking clearly and more, said Sheila Williams, clinical mental health counselor for Counseling and Psychological Services.
“We always take an individual approach to students who come to us feeling depressed,” she said.
Students looking for counseling can speak to someone at Counseling and Psychological Services 24/7 by calling (740) 593-1616.
“OU prides itself on a student-centered approach to everything,” Hall-Jones said. “We are here to help students adjust and be comfortable. Bobcats take care of each other.”