National rise in college suicides sparks local concern

The rising cases of suicide in college campuses across the nation have recently sparked concern at UM. In a powerful effort to stop troubled students from committing suicide, the UM Counseling Center recently held a student awareness campaign to help students cope with the stresses of college life.

Depression is a psychological disorder common among college students, most often characterized by pattern of hopelessness and a lack of interest in things that used to be enjoyable.

Dr. Pam Deroian, assistant director of the Counseling Center, said that while she is aware of the increasing college suicides, she is not worried about it happening at UM.

“There has been no suicide here at the University, and we are thankful for that,” Deroian said.

Although it is not fully known why a student might feel the need to take his or her life, Deroian feels it might have to do with low grades or the fact that students are not able to cope with the college experience.

“People are different and have different reasons for doing what they do, but we can help them with coping skills,” Deroian said.

Andrea Gaynor, psychology intern at the Counseling Center, said one of the ways to help students cope with stress is to have outreach programs.

“Last October we had a screening, and we were surprised at the number of students who are depressed,” Gaynor said. “We immediately referred them to the counselors.”

According to Gaynor, a high number of students stop by the office with disorders related to more than college stresses.

“There are also problems with relationships and family, but whatever the problems are, we are equipped to handle it,” Gaynor said.

Students also encourage their peers to seek help if they are feeling depressed or unhappy.

“Taking your own life is never a solution when help is available,” Kunal Patel, senior, said.

Freshman Amanda Ehrlich said she wasn’t aware of the suicides occurring on college campuses.

“If you are feeling depressed, see someone,” Ehrlich said. “If it’s your parents who are pressuring you, talk to them about it, lessen your work load, or change schools – whatever it takes.”

Gaynor said that students should help friends who may be depressed by looking for signs of withdrawal and irritability. Some people may start having physical complaints like headaches or stomach and muscle pains.

“We are here, and this is treatable.” Gaynor said. “Talk to a friend.”