*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.
College can be so stressful that many students think about killing themselves, and some even try, a new study suggests.
Among more than 67,000 students surveyed, over 20 percent said they experienced stressful events in the last year that were strongly associated with mental health problems, including harming themselves and suicidal thoughts or attempts, researchers found.
“What’s striking about our findings is that there is a disproportionate number of students who are reporting a large number of exposures to stress they believe is traumatic or difficult to overcome,” said lead researcher Cindy Liu. She directs the developmental risk and cultural disparities program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
“There are some stresses that are exceeding the capacity of students to cope,” she added.
Stressful events defined as traumatic or difficult to handle included: academic pressures; career issues; death of a family member or friend; family problems; intimate and other social relationships; finances; health problems of a family member or partner; personal appearance; personal health problems and sleep difficulties.
Liu’s team found that 3 out of 4 students had experienced at least one stressful event in the previous year. And more than 20 percent experienced six or more stressful events in the past year.
Among these students, 1 in 4 said they had been diagnosed with or treated for a mental health problem. Furthermore, 20 percent of all students surveyed thought about suicide, 9 percent had attempted suicide, and nearly 20 percent injured themselves.
These problems were particularly acute among transgender students, with about two-thirds saying that they had hurt themselves and more than one-third saying they had attempted suicide.
In addition, more than half of bisexual students said they had suicidal thoughts and had harmed themselves. More than a quarter of these students had attempted suicide, the researchers found.
Liu said the rate of students suffering from depression or anxiety is much higher now than it was in 2009, when the last survey was conducted.
Colleges are doing more than ever to help students cope with depression and anxiety, Liu said. In some schools, these efforts include peer counseling in addition to traditional mental health services.
The report was published online in the journal Depression and Anxiety.