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UNDERSTANDING AND PREVENTING STUDENT SUICIDE

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UNDERSTANDING AND PREVENTING STUDENT SUICIDE David Lester The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey Prologue Provocation: Why bother? But you re not serious! – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: UNDERSTANDING AND PREVENTING STUDENT SUICIDE


1
UNDERSTANDING AND PREVENTING STUDENT SUICIDE
  • David Lester
  • The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey

2
Prologue
  • Provocation
  • Why bother?
  • But youre not serious!

3
Why Bother?
  • My colleges philosophy
  • Opened in 1971 under Richard Bjork
  • Students are adults
  • They live in the community
  • They should use community facilities
  • No counseling center
  • (No NCAA teams)

4
  • Why are universities in loco parentis
  • Parents rarely get blamed
  • Are landlords held liable?
  • Are companies held liable?
  • Civil liability
  • Public relations
  • Yale student commits suicide off campus
  • Depressed? Get out!

5
  • Foxconn suicides in China
  • Apple and other firms
  • Some investigation
  • Conditions improved
  • Apple and others moved production elsewhere
  • January 2012 abusive sweatshops
  • Online petitions

6
  • France Télécom
  • 24 suicides at least
  • Some away from work
  • Some from the building
  • One executive responsible for trying modernize
    the company resigned in October 2009

7
Why arent you doing more?
  • School suicide prevention programs
  • Increasing awareness curricula
  • Skills-based program to teach social skills,
    problem-solving strategies
  • Gatekeeper training
  • Staff
  • Teachers
  • Peer gatekeepers and crisis counselors
  • Screening

8
  • Let me ask just two questions of you
  • Do you screen all incoming students at your
    institution for psychiatric problems and suicidal
    risk?
  • Do you train all faculty to be gatekeepers?
  • (Dont laugh)

9
Suicide in the United States
  • Many efforts
  • Government funding
  • Research
  • NGOs
  • American Association of Suicidology
  • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
  • And many more organizations
  • But the suicide rate here is low

10
  • Year male female
  • Japan 2007 35.8 13.7
  • Finland 2007 28.9 9.0
  • Belgium 1999 27.2 9.5
  • France 2006 25.5 9.0
  • Austria 2007 23.8 7.4
  • Switzerland 2006 23.5 11.7
  • New Zealand 2005 18.9 6.3
  • Sweden 2006 18.1 8.3
  • Germany 2006 17.9 6.0
  • USA 2005 17.7 4.5
  • Denmark 2006 17.5 6.4
  • Ireland 2007 17.4 3.8
  • Canada 2004 17.3 5.4
  • Norway 2006 16.8 6.0
  • Australia 2004 16.7 4.4
  • Netherlands 2007 11.6 5.0
  • United Kingdom 2007 10.1 2.8
  • Italy 2006 9.9 2.8

11
  • male female
  • Belarus 2003 63.3 10.3
  • Lithuania 2007 53.9 9.8
  • Russia 2006 53.9 9.5
  • Hungary 2005 42,3 11,2
  • Estonia 2005 35.5 7.3
  • Latvia 2007 34.1 7.7
  • USA 2005 17.7 4.5
  • From www.who.int

12
  • Steven Stack
  • deaths from suicide for those 18-24
  • Students 16.7
  • Non-students 14.4
  • Suicide rate
  • Big Ten 7.1
  • Three samples 6.5, 7.0, 9.4
  • Berkeley (1950s) 12.4
  • Americans aged 15-24 in 2009 10.1

13
Understanding Suicide in College Students
  • A great deal of research on suicidal ideation and
    attempted suicide in college students
  • The goal is to learn about suicide in general
  • Not about suicide in college students
  • For example, a study by Lamis and Malone (2011)

14
Langhinrichsen-Rohling, et al. (2011)
  • Personality Psychopathology
  • Depression
  • Affect dysregulation
  • Anger/hostility
  • Hopelessness
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Delinquency/conduct
  • Risky behavior/impulsivity

15
  • Gender Sexuality
  • Body image/eating disorder
  • Sexual orientation
  • Cross-gender role

16
  • Social Disruption
  • Childhood psychology/physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Dating violence
  • Physical assault victim
  • Bullying
  • Family instability/loss/divorce/violence
  • Thwarted belongingness
  • Perceived burdensomeness

17
  • Stress Life
  • Achievement/school problems
  • Interpersonal problems
  • Health problems
  • Prior suicidal behavior

18
  • Coping strategies
  • Social support seeking
  • Problem solving coping
  • Emotionally expressive coping
  • Using humor to cope
  • College-Specific Problems
  • Procrastination
  • Perfectionism
  • Optimism

19
The College Environment
  • Greater academic demands
  • Being on ones own in a new environment with new
    responsibilities
  • Changes in family relationships and ones social
    life
  • Financial responsibilities
  • Exposure to new people, ideas and temptations
  • Being away from home, often for the first time
  • Making decisions on a higher level than one is
    used to
  • Substance abuse
  • Awareness of ones sexual identity and
    orientation
  • Preparing for life after graduation

20
  • Two-year community colleges
  • Local colleges
  • Colleges distant from home
  • Colleges in a foreign country
  • Online colleges

21
  • Living at home
  • Living in a dormitory on campus
  • Living in an apartment on campus
  • Living in an apartment in town
  • Living in a fraternity/sorority

22
  • Single
  • Married
  • With children
  • Divorced/separated
  • Veteran
  • Disabled

23
Stressors
  • Holmes and Rahe stress scale
  • College stress scales
  • Academic
  • Housing
  • Financial
  • Social isolation
  • Homesickness
  • Career indecision
  • Peer pressures toward risky behaviors

24
Stressful universities
  • Stanford University
  • Columbia University
  • MIT
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Harvard University
  • Based on cost, competitiveness, acceptance rate,
    engineering rank, crime on campus

25
Other sources of stress
  • Violence on campus
  • Sexual assaults
  • Hate crimes
  • Hazing
  • Avengers (students, faculty and staff)
  • Riots
  • Arson and bombing

26
Graduate students
  • Lifetime serious suicidal ideation
  • Undergraduates 18
  • Graduate students 15
  • Past year suicide attempt
  • Undergraduates 0.85
  • Graduate students 0.30
  • Precipitating factor school problems
  • 43 and 45, respectively
  • Protective factor wanting to finish school
  • 39 and 32, respectively

27
Stressors for graduate students
  • Family (spouse and children divorce)
  • Dependency on one professor (thesis advisor)
  • Sexual abuse
  • Working on professors research (often no credit)
  • Professor moves elsewhere (or denied tenure)
  • Rewards for criticizing fellow students papers
  • Poor job prospects in many fields
  • Elitism (rejecting jobs at low prestige colleges)

28
Other risk factors
  • Perfectionism, especially at high status
    universities and for some groups of students
  • Language problems for foreign students

29
  • Acculturation
  • Racism and sexism
  • Conflicts between achieving in America and
    staying trueto ones culture
  • Found in Native Americans, African Americans,
    Hispanic Americans and Asian American students
  • One must not seek to be better than ones peers
  • For women, the pressure to get married and have
    children rather than a career
  • For African Americans, accusations of becoming
    too white, especially for African American women

30
Protective factors
  • One can live at home
  • On campus, one has friends, , resident advisors,
    faculty, mental health services
  • Less crime (although still some crime)
  • Fewer lethal means for suicide

31
Should suicidal students be forced to leave?
  • Bernard and Bernard studied students who had
    threatened or attempted suicide
  • Cause
  • Academic pressures 7
  • Romantic pressures 52
  • Family problems 21
  • Stay in college?
  • 80 did so and felt that this was the correct
    decision

32
Potentially Good Programs
  • Screening
  • Emory University
  • University of California San Diego Medical School
  • Gatekeeper-training
  • Syracuse University
  • Cornell University
  • Web-sites for information
  • Cornell University
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