August 31, 2010

The Growing Number of College Suicides

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Although Cornell is famous for its elite academics, extensive research opportunities and diverse student population, it is unfortunately famous for another reason: student suicides.  Although the numerous recent deaths at Cornell have been extremely publicized, the problem is not just a local one.  In recent years, student suicide has been an emergent problem in colleges and universities across the country.  Specifically, community colleges are having trouble making sure that all of their students are emotionally stable due to a lack of available resources.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the economic situation has contributed to emotionally unstable students at community colleges.  As the amount of students enrolling in community colleges each year continues to rise, the budget for social services has not risen in conjunction with it.  Therefore, there are fewer social services, such as counselors and mental-health groups, as there once was for students.  The amount of students who have been seeking social services has increased, but there has been no difference in the amount of help available.  Therefore, students in need may not be receiving the proper care that is sometimes necessary to save lives.

Why do so many community college students seek social services?  While many Cornell students come to campus in order to further their academics, most community college students are balancing their course loads with jobs, family issues, or language barriers.  Problems such as unfortunate financial situations, family deaths and divorces, or lost jobs contribute to students enrolling in community college in the first place.  Usually, adding academics only makes a students’ situation more stressful, which in turn makes them unhappier and more in need of social services.

Since many community college students are commuters, there are no residential advisors or mental health teams to watch them as they live their everyday lives.   Often, unhappy students can slip through the cracks.  Efforts are currently being made to introduce programs that will keep better track of students to ensure a support system at colleges.  Hopefully, Cornell will implement its own programs to lessen the amount of student suicides in the upcoming academic year.

Original Author: Rachel Rabinowitz