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How do college students at University of Northern Colorado,
Colorado State University, and CU feel about mental health services on their
campus? Do they trust them and choose to use them?

Over 1,000 college students die by suicide each year (American College
Health Association, 2012; Schwartz, 2006; Suicide Prevention Resource Center, 2004) with 8.0% to 15.0% of college students reporting a previous
suicide attempt (Wilcox et al., 2010), 7.1% having seriously considered and 1.2% attempting
suicide at least once in the past 12 months. This only reaches the surface of
the problem because this is a worldwide phenomenon that has not been resolved.

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There are many organizations out there that have prevention programs such as
National Suicide Prevention, Crisis Call Center, SPRC just to name a few. These
organizations are in operation to help those who are in crisis or know someone
who is.

LITERATURE
REVIEW

Existing
research shows a trend of substance abuse, domestic violence, and history of
mental illness in the family or the suicide victim or survivor as an
individual. Statistics for suicide in Colorado remain high in areas due to
socioeconomic status, low income communities, low social mobility due to
homelessness or unemployment, and high substance abuse–drug and alcohol
consumption among our young teens and adults (National Center for Education Statistics 2013).

According
to research from SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention and Mental
Health Services (2014), suicide is the leading cause of death among people with
substance use disorders. They also compared the general population in a way
that those treated for alcohol abuse or
dependence are about ten times likely to commit suicide. Many families are
struggling to stay afloat in the modern day demand. With that in mind, many
families do not have access to insurance for healthcare and choose not to seek
help. The poll from North Range Behavior Health (2015) says that Weld County is
the seventh highest suicide rate in the country.

Suicide rates have kept increasing in 2016, comparable to
Larimer County, The Coloradoan reports that suicide rates have more than
doubled since 2009. The Coloradoan also reports that Colorado has the highest
suicide rates in the nation. Most suicides occur within our male population
using handguns or other weapons. We are seeing a recent trend of white men
committing acts of violence by mass shootings and then afterwards committing
suicide. “Recent studies reveal that most school
shooters are White males, with 97 percent being male and 79 percent White. Over
the last three decades, 90 percent of high school or elementary school
shootings were the result of White, often upper-middle class, perpetrators.

These shootings are a direct reflection of White male privilege and the
consequences that occur when groups like the NRA control influential
conservative leaders” (Tiffany Xie. 2014). Those who are in the state of mind of being suicidal usually
have more issues underlying their issues. For example, signs of mental illness
including depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other psychiatric disorders. Another study done by Tracy Dietz (2010) said, “When
nominated as a worst event, sexual assault was associated with the most
symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. Additionally, events that caused
intense fear, helplessness, or horror and those that were intentionally caused
were associated with higher distress levels. In Dietz’s study, they found that
students experience that they feel
their life changed in the past as a result of the traumatic event(s) they
experienced, Dietz said, “Participants identified several themes of
self-acceptance, autonomy, purpose in life, relationships, sense of mastery, and
personal growth” (Tracy L. Dietz. 2010).

 In 2005, Health line
Media found, “90
percent of people who commit suicide have a mental illness at
the time of their death” (Kahn, April. 2016). Another source from the Centers
for Disease Control, say, “Suicide is the 10th leading
cause of death among adults in the U.S. and the 2nd leading
cause of death among people aged 10-24; in which rates are increasing” (Curtin,
Sally., Warner., Margaret. 2016). Mental
illnesses have been a humongous problem, which is also triggering suicide rates
to increase, as shown by the research.

Other issues that are a trigger to our young adults and
teens to attempt or contemplate suicide are in common in institutions such as
school or in the workplace. Peer related bullying (on the internet, in person,
etc.) is one of the risk factors of committing suicide according to April Kahn
(2016). Kahn (2016) also mentioned isolation, family history of suicide or
abuse, and substance abuse are risk factors.

Undergraduate college students are in an age group at high
risk for trauma exposure, with studies of community samples suggesting that the
peak age for trauma exposure is 16 to 20 years (Breslau et al., 1998; Wilcox, Storr, & Breslau, 2009). In a study of over 1,500 undergraduate students, Frazier and
colleagues (2009), establish
that 85% of the students testified experiencing at least one traumatic event in
their lifetime. Further, 21% reported experiencing an event over a 2-month
period in their college years. Frasier and colleagues (2009) found, expected
death of a loved one, followed by a loved one surviving a life-threatening
event, witnessing family violence, unwanted sexual attention, and involvement
in a motor vehicle or other accident were the trends that followed with those
suicide survivors. Many survivors in which Fraizer and colleagues (2009) found
was that these undergraduate students felt that they were trapped in the midst
of these troubling times in their lives that they decide to turn to having
suicidal thoughts. Frasier and colleagues (2009) say a “Lifetime exposures to
family violence, unwanted sexual attention, and sexual assault were associated
with higher current distress levels.”

The outlook on one’s life makes the difference whether or
not an individual falls into this state of mind of isolating themselves away
from social groups. Low self-esteem, low self-worth, and self-image, high
stress or anxiety, and other pressures in the home can also contribute to
attempts (Gold, Anne. 2016). Gold from the National Alliance on Mental
Illness says, “Someone with low
self-esteem has negative feelings about themselves, believing that they are not
worthy of love, happiness, or success” (Gold, Anne. 2016). Perhaps an
individual’s past trauma in relationships with their family is triggering them
as well to feel so alone in their life. This could be a number of reasons, for
example sexual abuse, emotional or physical abuse, mental abuse, or maybe no
attachment to their parents or guardians in adolescent years. These all can
have a major impact on a person’s well-being and attitude on life.

One may grow up and never receive the help that they need.

This is also a major influence on how intense our mental health has become. There
are many barriers that one faces while dealing with such issues, which is why
they do not confide in a medical professional for help. Alexandre Reynders
(2015) found that there is stigma attached to seeking help from any
professional or adult. Reynders says, “When confronted with additional
stressors, the more vulnerable persons can enter a situation of hopelessness
and helplessness in which suicide seems to be the only way to end the
psychological suffering” (Reynders, Alexandre. 2015). Shame, fear of others
judging them, and stigma that they feel are constantly in the minds of those
that want to do themselves harm.

METHODS

I will conduct a quantitative study using online surveys
done on Qualtrics upon the Larimer, Boulder, and Weld County students to
uncover known or even unknown patterns going on. I will include in my survey
sample ten surveys to the following universities: University of Northern
Colorado, Colorado State University, as well as CU for a total of thirty
surveys. I will be comparing how students feel about the services offered by
their campus. This will provide some resources to help them if they are
experiencing thoughts or know someone who is, and gain some insight about their
feelings towards this problem. At the end of the online survey, I will provide students
a list of other resources that they can use to help themselves or someone they
know. Suicide has been rampant in my high school life as well as college life,
which is where my interest in the topic comes from. I am passionate about
studying suicide through the lens of Emile Durkheim and how “the other” is
affected. Suicide is a problem in our society because it effects the family
structure and it creates a string of emotions with people they know. I hope to
also take it into consideration how institutions such as universities,
contribute to helping students. I will survey via Facebook, a sample of thirty
students using Qualtrics for the three universities—University of Northern
Colorado, Colorado State, and CU Boulder. 
I plan to get ten responses for a total of thirty responses from each
university by surveying students using the Facebook groups section.

My research will be designed to get the attention of those
that I present this project to in order to observe and think about possible
solutions, which will increase our knowledge about suicide. The growing fields
of social sciences and behavioral health will also benefit from the findings of
this study to help prevent suicide from occurring. Students and staff will be
impacted in a positive light by increasing students’ knowledge about where to
seek help from any prevention program. It will also aid in comforting
themselves to better assist others in their community that they come across who
are dealing with these issues. It will increase community outreach and exercise
their fundamental rights as citizens to utilize these programs.

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