Suicide prevention in college students

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Often times college is described as the best four years of your life. It's a time where you’re figuring out who you are, but for some that can be confusing and potentially dangerous.

In just the last semester there have been three student deaths at Appalachian State University. In Septemeber, 18-year old Anna Smith's case got a lot of attention. She disappeared and then a little more than a week later her body was found in a wooded area. Investigators ruled Smith's death a suicide.

Kinzie Hilton was one of Smith's childhood friends.

"She was always very intelligent in school, made really good grades. I was always jealous of her grades," said Hilton.

College students are under a lot of pressure and added stress can come with worrying about grades.

"There's 15 weeks in a semester, so that means the pressures kind of crescendos up at midterms, then maybe they go back down a little bit, then back up at finals," said Lynda Noffsinger, counselor at High Point University.

Many times a student who is having suicidal thoughts won't seek help themselves. High Point University's Counseling Services depends on parents, friends and professors to let them know if they see someone in trouble. Counselors then act on issues immediately.

"I think most people don't want to commit suicide, they want to be able to get out of the emotional pain they feel. They feel hopeless," said Noffsinger.

Hilton isn't sure she will ever know what Smith was thinking, but she is sure that now she is more attentive to her friends and their feelings.

"It hurts. I wish I would've known so I could've done something," says Hilton.

Here are some warning signs in a potentially suicidal person:

  • A sudden change in behavior
  • Making dark statements such as "I feel no use" or "I see no use"
  • Abnormally depressed after dealing with a tough break-up, especially in college students
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