Three Items Regarding Suicide By Firearm
April 7, 2000 The Chronicle of
Higher Education – Letter to the Editor re. Elite Colleges struggle to Prevent Student Suicides
I want to elaborate upon one element that was only briefly
mentioned by Ben Gose in his article "Elite
Colleges Struggle to Prevent Student Suicides."
When Mr. Gose spoke with me at the
time he was preparing the article, I emphasized the role that firearms play in
completed suicide. Mr. Gose does mention guns in his
article, but I do not believe your readers can appreciate just how significant
their role is.
Among men, who represent 80 percent of all completed suicides,
firearms are responsible for twice as many suicides as all other methods
combined. Among women, firearms are the leading method of completed suicide.
Mr. Gose did note what I have
described as "protective factors." What he did not note is that all
these protective factors relate to diminished access to firearms. Firearms are
virtually unavailable on college campuses, and are less commonly available in
homes in certain regions of the country.
Allan J. Schwartz Associate Professor of
Psychiatry Director Counseling and Mental Health Services University of
Rochester Rochester, N.Y.
March 25, 2012 The Chronicle of
Preventing Suicide on Campus May Mean
Fences and Nets as Well as Counseling
Over time, several observations and studies have supported
restricting the means of suicide as a prevention strategy. In the United
States, where the leading method of suicide is by gun, there is strong evidence
that access to firearms is a risk factor for suicide, and that restricting such
access can prevent deaths. At least a dozen studies have found that individuals
who die by suicide are more likely to live in a home with a gun, according to a
campaign called Means Matter, a project at the Harvard School of Public Health
to publicize research showing that restriction is an effective way to curb
Limiting access to firearms does not seem to result in an uptick
in suicides by other means, says Matthew J. Miller, a deputy director of
Harvard's Injury Control Research Center[.]…
– Week of May 10th, 2015
Crisis: Mental Health & Suicide on College Campuses
Clusters of student suicides at Tulane, William & Mary, MIT and other
universities this past year have launched a nationwide debate about the mental
health of young people around the country and what colleges, parents and
students themselves can do about it.
Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric spoke to experts and two mothers
personally affected by suicide to tackle the critical issue in a wide-ranging
College students are reporting that they’re more depressed and anxious than
ever before and are pouring into overwhelmed college counseling centers for
help, often waiting weeks for appointments. Universities are attempting to
respond but haven’t kept up with the crisis.
“We know that colleges have actually increased their staffing and increased
their budgets in many, many cases,” said Dr. Victor Schwartz, the medical
director for the JED
Foundation and the former medical director of counseling services at New
York University. “It hasn’t kept up with the demand. As much as they seem to
increase, students are coming in. There does seem to be a very, very large
It’s unclear what’s driving the dramatic decrease in emotional health on
campus. It’s possible more students now feel
comfortable seeking help in the first place, instead of bottling up their
problems. Dr. Allison Baker, a child psychiatrist with the Child Mind Institute, also pointed out
that more young people are receiving mental health treatment as children, which
allows them to go to college in the first place. But many college counseling
centers are ill-equipped to deal with these students’ more complicated mental
“Colleges are slammed, and services are lacking,” she said.
But there’s also clearly a societal and cultural element at play. New York
Times columnist Frank Bruni, author of “Where You Go
Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania,” said that
college administrators overwhelmingly describe today’s students as “fragile.”
They’re seeing less resilience and adaptability in students today than even
those from a decade earlier. Some blame over-involved parenting styles that put
intense pressure on kids to succeed.
“There’s an intense economic anxiety… that filters from parents to kids and
has a whole generation of kids worried about what their future is going to
hold,” Bruni said. “And then you have this kind of
parenting and this kind of atmosphere that often exists in certain communities
right now where kids are following this very exacting script through high
school that their parents have written for them. And then they get to college
and they’re on their own in a very real way for the first time. And the script
isn’t there for them.”
Some college counseling centers have started mandating that students take
“resilience workshops” before they access the overburdened counselors in the
first place, Yahoo News National Affairs Reporter Liz Goodwin said. The
workshops teach them basic coping skills and how to “self soothe” after an
ordinary setback such as a bad grade.
Schwartz highlighted the role of social media, which has been a part of
campus life for a decade now but continues to grow. The technology is meant to
connect people, but it might not actually increase feelings of closeness and
intimacy that can help a young person survive a crisis. “There’s data that, in
fact, students feel less connected to their friends than they did 10 and 20
years ago,” Schwartz said.
Margaret Kramer, a graduating senior at the University of South Carolina,
who has been a mental health advocate on her campus, said that social media
creates tremendous pressure to present oneself as perfect.
“We’re constantly online, constantly having to
create several personas for ourselves within our classroom, within our
professional life, if we have that as a student,” she told Couric via Skype.
“There’s a perfection expected. I’ve definitely been affected by that.”
Couric also spoke to two grieving parents of bright and promising college
students who took their own lives after battling mental illness.
Sue Cimbricz, the mother of Sam Freeling, who died by suicide as a senior at the University
of Rochester less than two years ago, told Couric that something changed in her
son, suddenly, and that she still doesn’t know what happened.
“He said he didn’t have the same feelings of joy and happiness that he had
before,” she said.
Though Freeling was in treatment, Cimbricz thinks the social stigma around mental illness may
have made the emerging disease even harder for her son to deal with. He tried
to hide his pain. “I think to a large degree a lot has to do with the social
stigma attached with this and that feeling of isolation,” Cimbricz
Donna Satow, who founded the JED Foundation to
educate people about suicide after her son took his own life in 1998, agreed
that stigma is still an issue but that it’s slowly getting better. She hopes to
spread the message that suicide is preventable and that mental illness is
treatable, just like other diseases.
“We just felt that with the people we knew and the knowledge we had, we
should try with all of our might to combat this,” Satow
said. “It is preventable if young people can get the right help. The help is