Colleges and Universities
Suicide and suicidal behaviors are a major concern for colleges and universities. Suicide is a leading cause of death among college and university students in the United States (see Scope of the Problem section).1 In addition to the students who die by suicide, many others struggle with suicidal thoughts and other mental health problems. Fortunately, colleges and universities also provide unique opportunities for comprehensive suicide prevention planning.
Recognizing the importance of addressing suicide prevention in these settings, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has provided grants to support suicide prevention in campus communities since 2005. For more on the Garrett Lee Smith Suicide Prevention Program, see our Grantees page.
Why Address Suicide Prevention
- Mental health issues often first appear between the ages of 18 and 24, so colleges are uniquely situated to help these young people.2
- Students’ mental health can affect their academic performance.
- Suicidal thoughts and behaviors can impact the entire campus community.
How Colleges and Universities Can Take Action
The best way to prevent suicide is to use a comprehensive approach that includes these key components:
- Promote social networks and connectedness
- Improve access to mental health services on and off campus
- Identify and assist students who may be at risk for suicide
- Be prepared to respond when a suicide death occurs
- Schwartz, A. J. (2006). College student suicide in the United States: 1990–1991 through 2003–2004. Journal of American College Health, 54(6), 341–352.
- Kessler, R. C., Berglund, P., Demler, O., Jin, R., & Merikangas, K. R. (2005). Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62, 593–602.
- See the Recommended Resources below selected by SPRC personnel.
- See All Resources Related to Colleges and Universities for a full list of materials, programs, trainings, and other information available from SPRC. Use the filters on the left to narrow your results.
- For more on other settings and groups, see our Settings and Populations pages.