Student suicide attempts are on the rise at UCSB according to campus mental health experts.
Director of Counseling Services Jeanne Stanford said the growing trend is disturbing, noting that officials are aware of four suicide attempts so far this quarter and that there is a concern many more are left unreported.
“Between 2006 and 2007 at UCSB, the attempts increased 22 percent, so this is really serious,” Stanford said. “Four serious suicide attempts came to the attention of the Dean’s office this Winter quarter and that’s just the ones that we know about. That’s what’s alarming to me.”
Although suicide attempts on campus have been increasing over the past two decades, there has been a drastic spike in the last few years, Angela Andrade, coordinator of Student Mental Health Services, said.
“There has certainly been an increase in suicide rates,” Andrade said. “I know going back 20 years on our campus we used to see a couple of students a year and now we may see several in a week.”
Stanford said she speculates the rise in suicide rates may be a result of increased stress placed on students by the faltering economy or trauma induced by the post-9/11 war atmosphere. Still, Stanford said it is important to differentiate suicide from suicide attempts – the former being a fairly rare case at UCSB, with only two or three successful cases documented in the last few years.
“Out of the UCs, we have fewer suicides,” Stanford said. “What we’ve seen here, though, is an increase in suicide attempts and an increase in people thinking about suicide, called suicidal ideation. If they’ve gotten to purchasing pills or a gun, that’s gone past the ideation and into a crisis.”
Mental health jumped to the forefront after very publicized reports of UC suicides were released in 2006. The study revealed a student mental health system desperate for funding and staff even as UC campuses were seeing a rise in mental health problems.
Money from students pays for some crisis counseling and UCSB has $400,000 dedicated to permanent funding for mental health services, but mental health is still taking quite a hit from the budget crisis. Without more funding, Michael Young, vice chancellor of student affairs and co-chair of the UC-wide Student Mental Health Committee, said campus officials are unable to further develop the much-needed preventative aspect of mental health care.
“The budgets to all our health services that deal with students in psychological distress have been cut,” Young said. “It’s true that there are measures that we wanted but can’t take because there aren’t the resources. It’s a grave concern of mine.”
Stanford said severed funding to mental health services has delayed the creation of a comprehensive suicide prevention unit.
“Unfortunately, with all the budget cuts we are unable to create a suicide prevention program, so we’re just focusing on intervention,” Stanford said. “We were supposed to get more money to hire more psychologists. The ideal ratio would be 1 psychologist for every 1,500 students, and right now we have 1 to 1,900.”
The concern over the prevalence of campus suicide attempts has prompted the creation of a 24-hour suicide prevention hotline at UCSB, however. In addition, Student Health now houses two social workers, a full medical staff and a psychiatry program.
“The issue of suicide and mental health for me has become the number one priority when looking at the health of students at UCSB,” Young said. “It’s a national problem and it’s my belief that the university has a responsibility to respond with all the services necessary to try to engage these issues.”
Students who are experiencing signs of depression are strongly encouraged to utilize mental health resources on campus. Confidential counseling is available around the clock at (805) 893-4411.
UCSB worries about liability Concerns More than its Students
I tried to commit suicide this quarter and was forced to leave the school. UCSB suspended me and asked me to leave. They didn’t even check to see if I was alive in the hospital before they suspended me. This article is simply UCSB trying to cover their asses. I am a normal person with a mental disability. I have been discriminated against and forced out of school for it.
Careful with Terminology
Suicides might be completed, but they are never successful.
A suicide attempt is a cry for help, that cry for help works only if the attempter remains alive.
Please be careful with language around this issue.
what actually counts as a suicide attempt anyway?
do you have to end up in the hospital?
wow, questionauthority, I’m so sorry to hear that the school is pulling that kind of bullshit. That’s really disgusting – I had no idea they do that.
UCSB doesn’t arbitrarily suspend students.
There is always the option for a voluntary leave, if the student chooses to accept it. This is meant to provide students time to recieve the treatment they need. If they choose not to voluntarily leave, they will be suspended, usually for a longer period of time than the original voluntary leave would have been.
UCSB cares about its students. This is not some conspiracy against people with mental health issues, but rather a means to make sure everyone is as healthy as possible.
That Is Still Forcingwritingmyownworld, I don’t believe that giving an option between "voluntarily" leaving or being suspended counts as not forcing said student out. Either way the student is still removed. Here’s a morbid analogy for you: If a predator walks up to a woman, points a gun at her, and says, "You have a choice. Either remove your clothes, shout ‘YES!’ and have sex with me, or I’ll tie you up and rape you, anyway," that doesn’t give the woman much of a choice. Either way she ends up having sex. And, either way that sex can easily be… Read more »
So…Assuming there is no real choice, isn’t maintaining the course of school not helping the person attempting suicide? After all, suspension didn’t equal expulsion last time I checked, and wouldn’t some time off to reflect, recover, and seek treatment be beneficial to the mental health of said person? Also, the rape analogy was not only out of place, but contains far too much evil intent and shock value to be an accurate depiction of suspension. Perhaps the "call for resignation" that is often heard when an official or worker is obviously on the chopping block? Even then, if my knowledge… Read more »
It’s nice to see that some people "get it" and are willing to give our school the benefit of the doubt. There are a lot of people who work long hours trying to help our fellow students in need. All we ask is that you acknowledge their efforts and understand what a huge deal mental health issues are on our campus. I’m not naive enough to believe that there is no shadiness that happens in such a huge system like our school…but why must we be so focused on what this school "does wrong" and forget to appreciate what they… Read more »
@ InterestedPartyMy roommate happens to be the latest in 4 students this quarter to attempt suicide, so forgive me if I disregard your personal opinion on this matter to give my own first-hand account of the subject. My roommate not only endangered her life with that attempt, but the lives of myself, my 4 other roommates, and the downstairs neighbors. She made two attempts within a 24-hour time period, and made it known that if she were released from the hospital she would try it again. After she was hospitalized, we found out she had had an ADDITIONAL plan layed… Read more »
Writingmyownworld…thank you so much clarifying. I’m really sorry that it came to you having to respond with the entire happenings of the situation and I hope that this has not been out of your comfort zone to talk about it. I am so grateful that you were willing to set things straight. It’s frustrating trying to share the information about campus with people without having known the actual situation. Again, thank you. I’m glad you and your housemates are safe…and I’m glad your roommate is getting the help and time off she so desperately needed.