After 3 Suspected Suicides, Cornell Reaches Out

Carol’s summary:

The recent suicides of three Cornell University students are causing campus mental health services nationwide to reassess their programs for identifying students who are at risk and getting them into counseling. While other mental health issues are often apparent in people who take their lives, suicide is a national health crisis among young people. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), statistics predict two suicides per year for a university population of 20,000 students, making it the second-leading cause of death among college students and the third-leading cause of death among youth overall (ages 15-24, after accidents and homicides). And because young people often turn to suicide as an impulsive solution to problems, many counseling experts say suicide is often preventable.

Learning self-advocacy skills, and how to cope with strong emotions like anxiety, must begin well before students step foot on a college campus. LifeBound’s PEOPLE SMARTS program offers strategies for developing emotional intelligence and subsequently creates a more positive school culture. One of the counselors we work with at an elementary school said it gave her students the language to process an apparent suicide by a student at their feeder high school. Schools tend to focus on academic skills, but unless students also learn how to handle setbacks and manage strong negative emotions, they will be at a deficit when it comes to handling life’s pitfalls, regardless of how bright they may be academically. For review copies of our PEOPLE SMARTS book and curriculum samples, please call toll free 1.877.737.8510 or email


After 3 Suspected Suicides, Cornell Reaches Out
by Trip Gabriel
March 16, 2010

ITHACA, N.Y. — All weekend, Cornell University’s residential advisers knocked on dorm rooms to inquire how students were coping.

On Monday and Tuesday, the start of a stressful exam week before spring break, professors interrupted classes to tell students they cared for them not just academically, but personally. Both days, the university president, Dr. David J. Skorton, took out a full-page ad in the campus paper, The Cornell Daily Sun, saying: “Your well-being is the foundation on which your success is built. If you learn anything at Cornell, please learn to ask for help.”

The university is on high alert about the mental health of its students after the apparent suicides of three of them in less than a month in the deep gorges rending the campus. The deaths, two on successive days last week, have cast a pall over the university and revived talk of Cornell’s reputation — unsupported, say officials — as a high-stress “suicide school.”

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