VIRGINIA: Campus Suicide Crisis: A Need for Prevention

May 20, 2016
News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News
State:  Virginia

Psychiatry Advisor

To address the problem of suicidal ideation, attempts, and deaths on college and university campuses, researchers at the University of Virginia (UVA) set up a database to gather information about student visits to emergency departments. The goal was to determine the prevalence of suicidal ideation and attempts, and other characteristics of university students who went to the emergency departments. The data were gathered based on psychiatric ICD-9 codes, including mood, anxiety, substance-induced, and personality disorders, as well as poisonings and suicidal behavior. The findings showed no significant differences by gender, but Asian students, those with major depressive disorder, and those taking antipsychotic medication were most likely to present in the ED with suicidal ideation. The most common method used in attempts was overdose (21%). The main risk factors were hopelessness; low self-esteem; insomnia; chronic medications; chronic pain; and academic, financial, and relationship stressors. Psychiatric care was provided to 41% of the students. The researchers concluded that “students presenting to the ED for psychiatric distress may benefit from therapy and psychiatric care through numerous avenues across the university and surrounding community.”

Spark Extra! For national data and risk and protective factors among college and university students, see the fact sheet Suicide among College and University Students in the United States.

Settings:  Colleges and Universities
About Suicide:  Risk and Protective Factors
Planning and Implementing:  Finding and Using Data