College-Students Second Leading Killer

Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among college students nationally, according to Emory University.

At El Camino, there has been a total of four known reports of students feeling suicidal on campus in the last two semesters.

Recently, on Feb. 17 a male student reported to a health center staff member that he was feeling suicidal, according to the police logs.

One in 10 college students has made a plan to commit suicide, according to Emory University, students between the ages of 18 to 25 have a higher chance of making plans, having suicidal thoughts, and having a suicidal attempt.

Alison Brown, Coordinator of The Center of Wellness and Wellbeing at Santa Monica College has been a college level psychologist for 13 years and have been visited by students each semester about their suicidal thoughts.

“There are different levels of suicide,” Brown said in a phone interview, “It’s more common for people to have suicidal thoughts than to act on it.”

Last semester, there were a total three suicide attempts, according to the police logs.

There were two fatalities in two attempts since 2015.

In the fall of that year, former student Porchua Vang, 22-year-old of Torrance, died by suicide after jumping off of Lot H hours before his birthday.

In fall 2016, former student Jonney Tran, 20-year-old of Hawthorne and respiratory care major, was found dead in his car after missing for two weeks.

If I was a faculty member [at El Camino] I will talk with the student who is feeling suicidal and try to figure out if its more of a thought or if they are really feeling suicidal, Brown said, “walk the student to the health office or call to make sure they made it.”

The Union went around asking students if they ever felt or know of someone who has felt suicidal. After collecting all the data, 33% of students said they either know someone or have felt suicidal themselves.

“If you are feeling down, talk to someone,” Michael Trevis, chief of police said in a phone interview, “If you aren’t able to speak to someone go talk to Jan Schaeffer, the clinical psychologist we have on campus, or call the 24-hour suicidal hotline at 310-391-1253.”

Renee Galbavy, psychology instructor, and Schaeffer both declined to be interviewed due to the topic being too sensitive and not having the questions before the interview date.

According to Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services website, the warning signs and risk factors are:

Warning Signs

  • Feelings of worthlessness, failure or shame
  • Signs of major depression
  • Avoiding friends
  • Despairing texts or post
  • Risky behaviors
  • Giving away possessions
  • Making out wills
  • Threatening or planning suicide

Risk Factor

  • Attempted suicide in the past
  • Lost a loved one to suicide
  • Loss of job, marriage, housing, or health
  • Increased alcohol or drug use.

If you or anyone you know are feeling suicidal, please call The Suicide Prevention Hotline at (800) 273-8255 or visit the Health Center at El Camino. For more information about Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, click here.



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