Variables Related to Serious Suicidal Thoughts Among College Students
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Self-administered questionnaires were completed by 1768 college students enrolled in freshman level psychology courses at Southwest Texas State University. Of these, 5.7% of the males and 6.1% of the females indicated they had seriously considered a suicide attempt during the previous six months. Those reporting such suicidal thoughts tended to be characterized by inner turmoil, poor self concepts, decreased life satisfaction, and self-reported drug abuse and drinking problems, delinquency, and a history of family problems dating back to childhood and adolescence. Implications for student affairs are presented. In the last 15 years the suicide rate among individuals 15 to 24 years old in the United States has doubled. In the last 25 years it has tripled. Suicide is now the third leading cause of death in this age group, and for years has been outranked at many leading universities only by accidents (Byrd and Thomas, 1971). In 1980, according to government statistics, almost five thousand young people in the 15 to 24 age group committed suicide. But, while males are four times as likely as females in this age group to actually kill themselves, females are about three times as likely as males to attempt it (Teicher, 1972). Suicidal acts among young people of both sexes have been found to be related to: (a) a long-standing history of problems (Jacobs, 1971); (b) parent-child difficulties (Margolin Ik Teicher, 1968); (c) parental emotional problems, depression and perceived overpermissiveness (Teicher, 1972); and (d) parental loss (Carmen & Blaine, 1970). The three primary purposes of this study were: (a) to determine the incidence of serious suicidal thoughts among a group of college students; (b) to determine if the male/female differences, which apparently exist among suicide attempters, also exist among those who seriously consider suicide; and (c) to determine the relationship between reported suicidal thoughts and variables related to self concept, childhood family problems and reported drinking problems, drug abuse problems, and delinquency.