University suicides: why are young people so at risk?


University can be a daunting experience. Behind the positive image marketed by their PR teams, the transition to university can be a significant change to a young person. Leaving home, established support networks, and entering a new world of challenges with the added pressures of socialising, mood affecting drugs such as alcohol and stress of academic and financial commitments cannot be ignored. In many cases, this first taste of independence can be shattering, and the results are clear.

The university experienced is marketed as 'life-changing', encouraging independence, fun, and yes, drinking. University is an experience which results in getting a degree at the end - I remember my university days, and I would be lying to say that I didn't enjoy them.

I did it all, sports, partying, excessive drinking, hangovers, chasing girls, all the standard debauchery that comes alongside a qualification. I also got low at times, struggled with work demands and balancing work and social life. These demands were stressful, and for some would have significant effects on their mood and behaviour. I include myself in this group, having suffered severely later in my time.

Rising suicides rates

Suicide rates at university are climbing, and the reasons are multiple. Although universities provide excellent support, it is often certain groups that are more susceptible to suicide. These groups, by their nature, may not access supportive pathways. Young men show the greatest risk, which is likely due to a social pressure to ignore their feelings, perceived 'weakness' in seeking help and tendency to undertake destructive behaviours in order to cope. Women are also affected, and as gender roles are recast we cannot consider this reality separately in our reasoning.

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