The Silent Killer Amongst College Students

Trigger Warning: Discussion about Suicide

          From Pexels website, a girl sitting in the middle of the street.  https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-sitting-on-road-3125006/

What is your major?  The question that college students are asked on a regular basis. However, there is a question that society is missing when it comes to college students, and it is, are you suicidal? As “suicide is the #2 leading cause of death for college students” (M counseling and psychological services, n.d). This should raise the alarm but is not talked about. On a college campus, people will see suicide prevention signs, which are needed but often not enough. The issue of suicide is a quiet epidemic, and its relevance to Maryville is that we are a University in which people are in the demographics of having suicidal thoughts. Also, colleges in the St. Louis area have had students die by suicide in the past two years. You can out more about that in this news article, https://www.ksdk.com/article/news/health/mental-health/slu-mental-health-top-priority-after-student-suicides/63-a38b9ee5-f938-4724-a120-ed3a91378812.

Not only have students in the St. Louis area died by suicide, but students on our own campus have faced suicidal thoughts or attempts. There are stories everywhere if people were not too afraid to ask. One Maryville student who wished to be anonymous states, “I mean, I don’t think anywhere talks about it enough. Hotlines and resources should definitely be displayed in classrooms and every building.” I will note that Maryville has suicide prevention information around campus, but a sign that comes up for a few seconds on a screen is not enough. Most, Universities try when it comes to suicide prevention, but sadly is not till a suicide occurs that it raises alarm bells. 

Now, you may be wondering what the alarm bells are. How can I, as a college student, be aware of this quiet epidemic? Let me tell you one thing, do not be afraid to ask someone if they are suicidal. The National Alliance on Mental Illness discusses five myths around suicide that are important, I want only to discuss one of them.  Which is the idea that talking about suicide d “leads to and encourages suicide” (5 common myths about suicide debunked, n.d). Actually cultivates conversations and allows individuals to recognize that they are not alone. Mental illness in this society can often be misunderstood, as people use terms like ‘I am depressed’ or ‘I would rather be dead than do that’ so nonchalantly that, as a society, there has been a lack of understanding of how serious depression can be and how devasting death is to a community, especially by suicide. Think before the suicide joke. Humor can be a way of coping, but know that someone hears that and it’s not just a joke to them. Suicide cannot only be talked about as a joke or after someone dies by suicide. Find more information about myths around suicide at the National Alliance on Mental Illness website, which is linked below: https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/September-2020/5-Common-Myths-About-Suicide-De bunked 

The question I am about to ask should not come as a surprise, and it is, are you suicidal? Know that if you answered yes, you are not alone, my friend. Unlike many suicide prevention resources out there, I will not say just stay alive. Let us be honest here, know it’s okay to be angry, to cry, scream, and ultimately feel the emotions; just know that you do not have to do that alone. If you are a Maryville student, know that there are resources, such as the counseling center and the 24/7 Counseling Center Support Line. There will be more information linked below for resources.


Ask your friend if they are suicidal. Let’s have the hard conversations because whether or not society wants to realize it or not, suicide happens. Maryville is not immune to suicide. Talk to your friends and have honest conversations.  

Maryville’s Big Red M Sign’ and a sunset photo was taken by Layla Schaeffer.


5 common myths about suicide debunked. (n.d.). Retrieved September 16, 2022, from https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/September-2020/5-Common-Myths-About-Suicide-Debunked

M counseling and psychological services. (n.d.). Retrieved September 16, 2022, from https://caps.umich.edu/article/facts-and-statistics-0#:~:text=National%20Statistics%3A,on%20college%20campuses%20per%20year

Resources at Maryville: 

Maryville University Counseling Center

University Library

(314) 529-9556

24/7 Counseling Center Support Line: (314) 529-6630

Other resources: 

988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline  

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1 (800) 273-8255


If you are in immediate crisis, please call 911

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