Suicide Thoughts Down, Drug Rx Up

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Mental illness among college students is on the rise, the LA Times reports, based on data presented at the American Psychological Association s annual meeting in San Diego. Between September 1997 and August 2009, 3,265 college students who used campus counseling services were assessed for mental disorders, suicidal thoughts and self-injurious behavior. The study results indicate that 24 percent of students were on psychiatric medications in 2009 compared to only 11 percent in 1998. The number of students who had suicidal thoughts within two weeks of counseling decreased from 26 percent to 11 percent in the same time period.

Though the article credits suicide prevention programs and counseling outreach for the decrease in suicidal ideation rates, ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross believes one important, and obvious, point is overlooked. Based on the statistics, it s clear that as drug prescriptions increased, suicidal thoughts decreased. Therefore, these psychotropic medications should also be credited with helping to decrease the rate of suicidal thoughts among college students. Unfortunately, many Americans believe we are needlessly over-medicating our children, but it s obvious that drugs are often times necessary to diminish the rate of mental illness.

There were insufficient data on actual suicide rates among college students to make any similar conclusions.