Suicide has recently been highlighted in many publications and community discussions; as a major concern among young people and among the population at large, the issue is forcing some family members and professionals to take a closer look at prevention and intervention measures. Cornell University in particular has recently been placed in the spotlight after a series of on-campus suicides, both confirmed and suspected. The campus has been fighting its image as a high stress “suicide school” for several years, and officials note that over these years, suicide rates have fallen within those considered normal for the size of its student population. Yet this year, the ivy-league school has experienced six suicide cases, three of which have taken place in the past month.
University officials have responded with enhanced counseling services and have posted guards at some of the campus’ suspension bridges, which overlook deep gorges frequently noted as highlighting the area’s natural beauty. Yet these gorges have been the scenes of despair and mourning for many students, as flowers and telephone numbers for suicide hot lines have developed a dominating presence. Some attribute the rising rates of suicide to stress –the traditionally nerve-wracking exam week that precedes spring break is currently taking place on campus–, while others posit that youths are simply going through the usual rigors of college life and the process of maturation. The problem seems to be, however, that students may not feel that they can ask for help, or may not know how to achieve it.
As university campuses and other institutions involved in the care and nurturing of young minds react to the incidents at Cornell, a greater focus on the role of college counseling services, therapy, and other important offerings may become crucial for moving forward in a positive way. Through helping people understand that help is available –and that it can be very powerful–, concerned professionals may be able to help prevent further rises in suicides within the educational environment.
© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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