June 21, 2017

Suicide Among College Students

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Chiyoko Uchida, MD, PhD, and Mai Uchida, MD

Fukushima University, Japan (Dr C Uchida) and Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston (Dr M Uchida)


Suicide is a leading cause of death for college students in Japan and in many other developed countries. We conducted a study to identify risk factors for suicide among Japanese college students so that the data could be used to improve university services to help prevent suicides. This study was a 23-year serial prevalence study of the prevalence and characteristics of suicide among 8.2 million Japanese college students. We analyzed rates of suicide and characterized students’ sex and psychiatric and academic backgrounds to identify risk factors for suicide. Suicide rates increased throughout the 23 years, and suicide has been the leading cause of death in this population every year since 1996.

Suicide was the cause of 42.4% of all deaths that happened in the 23 years studied. A higher risk for suicide was found among students with the following characteristics: male sex, a major in medicine, being in the final year of study, and having completed extra years of schooling or taken an academic leave of absence. Only 16.4% of students who committed suicide had received an official psychiatric diagnosis, and 16.0% had received services through the university health center.

Our results suggest the need for a stronger support system for college students. Areas for improvement could include better advertising of the mental health services, education for students and staff members about suicide risk factors, and mentorship and outreach programs for students in their final year of classes, those majoring in medicine, and those who have taken a leave of absence or failed classes.

We are interested in how people feel about the results of our study, and we would like to hear from mental health professionals about how you are dealing with these problems.

Financial disclosure:Dr C Uchida and Dr M Uchida have no relevant personal financial relationships to report.

Category: Suicide
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4 thoughts on “Suicide Among College Students

  1. Thanks so much for your research in this area. Although much is as I would have expected, I was surprised to see so few of the students committing suicide having had a formal diagnosis. I can only see the abstract, so perhaps you comment in the full paper about factors unique to Japan that may leave so few diagnosed. Or perhaps this low amount is not unusual and has been seen in students from other countries?
  2. Thank you very much for your comment. The low percentage with a diagnosis means that few students committing suicide went to see psychiatrists either outside or inside campuses. There is still prejudice against psychiatric disorders in Japan. They also might feel insecure to go to student health centers to consult with counselors or doctors.
  3. Although we have to understand the suffering patient, suicide, is one of the most profound forms of selfishness.
    He knows how to disguise himself in various ways, justifying himself with skill, in order to continue as an agent of destruction of the goods of life.
    In the perspective of deep psychiatry, the being lives to love and be loved, to illuminate the SHADOW and to make the Self prevail.
    Beings must transform impulses into feelings, atavisms into lucid activities, dominating inheritances in full acquisitions, instincts rooted in harmonious emotions, habits stratified into edifying attainments, lower tendencies into high aspirations under the impulses of love.
    Efficient therapy for overcoming sick EGO, efficient stimulus for the Self that blossoms sovereign when irrigated by the flow of that higher feeling of life.
    Love dynamizes the inner potentials of being, helping the neurons and glands of the endocrine system to produce immunoglobulins that immunize the human being in relation to various infections, while vitalizing the emotional and the psychic, after all from where this powerful energy emanates.
    The triad, patient, family and (multidisciplinary) therapist today is the great key that will rescue innumerable beings on the brink of suicide.Congratulations on the brilliant work.
    Dr Vlamir Pereira;
  4. Thank you very much for your toughtful and moving comment. You are absolutely right. The triad , patient,family and therapist is the great key to rescue them.

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