Thoughts of death or suicide are usually signs of severe depression. It is believed that major life transitions (such as leaving home and family and peer supports to attend college — an unfamiliar environment with higher academic standards) may intensify present psychological distress or trigger new mental distress.

According to the first National College Health Risk Behavior Survey, 10.3% of respondents reported seriously considering attempting suicide, 6.7% had made a suicide plan, and 1.5% reported they had attempted suicide one or more times in the 12 months preceding the survey. This shows that suicidal behavior falls on a continuum. One aspect is suicidal ideation (thinking about death or killing one’s self), continues with planning and preparing for suicide, and ending with threatening, attempting, and completing suicide.

Here are some University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Suicide Statistics:

  • 24% students think about suicide to some degree
  • 42.1% said they had felt so depressed that it was difficult to function at least once during the school year
  • 11.3% said they had seriously considered attempting suicide at least once in the last school year
  • 1.1% said they had attempted suicide at least once

Is Suicide a Possibility?

While suicide can be difficult to predict, warning signs do exist. None of the following signs alone necessarily indicate suicidal potential, but the presence of several indicators, particularly if they indicate a change from the person’s usual mood and style of coping, deserve close attention.

  • Persistent sadness that seems excessive given one’s life situation.
  • Inability or unwillingness to communicate with others.
  • Psychological changes such as irritability, anxiety or withdrawal.
  • Neglect of school work, personal grooming or other routine tasks.
  • Changes in physical health such as changes in sleep habits, appetite, weight, or energy level.
  • Changes in social behavior such as inability to enjoy usual social activities, sudden and severe change in drug use or sexual activity.
  • Personal crises and major losses or rejections.
  • Preoccupation with death or preparation for death.