By Ashley Fries

Robin Williams Photo courtesy of
Robin Williams
Photo courtesy of

In light of Robin William’s tragic suicide, I thought it important to get the word out there about depression and suicide. Depression is a common disease for many people in the world. It does not make you strange. You are not alone.

   Specifically, many college students become depressed. According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC), “14.5 percent of students at one large university screened positive for depression. The American College Health Assessment likewise finds that 60.5 percent of students ‘felt very sad,’ and 30.3 percent say they ‘felt so depressed that it was difficulty to function’ at least once.”

   SPRC further states that “suicide occurs at a rate between 6.5 and 7.5 per 100,000 among students, approximately half the rate for nonstudent college-aged adults.”

   Though many college students that are indeed depressed do not actually commit suicide, they still contemplate it.

   SPRC states “regarding suicidal thoughts, 15 percent of graduate and 18 percent of undergraduate students have seriously considered attempting suicide in their lifetimes. 50 percent of these same students report multiple episodes of serious suicidal thoughts.”    

   The facts are there, you are not alone or abnormal for being depressed or even contemplating suicide. But, it is never too late to get help. You do not have to suffer alone. There are many people ready and willing to help you through the dark times in your life.

   Kutztown University has the Counseling Center available for all students.

   You can either stop in for a face-to-face conversation or you can call (610)-683-4072.

   Furthermore, there are many students, faculty and professors that would be willing to talk with you and help you. All you have to do is make that first step and ask.

   If you cannot bring yourself to get help from someone around you, there is always the National Suicide Hotline. You are anonymous and they are available 24 hours, 7 days a week, so you can call at any time.

   The Lehigh County number is (610)-782-3127. The national hotline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

   You are not weak for seeking help; you are strong for it. You are being a fighter and that is something you should never be ashamed of. Everyone needs help sometimes.

   Sometimes it is not you who is depressed and/or suicidal but rather a friend. Sometimes you may not even know they are depressed.

Sometimes those who commit suicide are those you would never expect. They seem happy and okay but then they are gone.

   However, most of the time they did have warning signs, you just did not notice them.

   They may have been subtle or you may not have recognized them as such. Other times the person is more obvious with their depression or suicidal thoughts.

   The best way to help a friend or family member who is depressed and suicidal is to know the warning signs and how to react to them.

   A couple warning signs include: talking about suicide, withdrawing from others, hopelessness and many more. Some prevention techniques include: speaking up if you are worried, offer help and support, never leave a suicidal person alone and many more.

   For complete lists of warning signs and prevention techniques, go to:

   There you will find in-depth information about warning signs and exactly what to do to help the depressed or suicidal person. Knowing all of this could help to save a life, educate yourself and always have the website available for consulting.

   Finally, there are steps you can take to lower your risk for depression. While it is not 100 percent preventable, there are some self-preventative measures you can take.

   First, find a stress reliever, whether that is the gym, a book, writing or something else. Find something that helps you when you are stressed.

   Next, have good friends that make a support system and make you happy and can cheer you up.

Suicide Prevention Lifeline Photo courtesy of
Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Photo courtesy of

   Stay away from drugs and alcohol. Alcohol in nature is a depressant. In fact, alcohol and suicide among college students are frequently associated with each other.

   In regards to the finding about depression and suicide rates from above, SPRC says, “survey data indicates that 43.9 percent of students report having 5 or more drinks in one sitting at least once during the two weeks prior to completing the survey and that around half that number also consume alcohol on three or more occasions per week. Students also reported that suicidal behavior was a consequence of drinking—4.0 percent seriously though about suicide, and 1.2 percent tried to commit suicide.”

   At the end of the day it is your life, a life you are just really beginning to live. There is so much left to experience and enjoy. Do not feel alone or weak for being depressed or thinking about suicide.

   There are so many people going through the same thing as you. Do not be afraid to seek help,.

   SPRC states, “most students who die by suicide are not clients of campus counseling centers.”

   The resources are available and they are there to help you. Take advantage of them.

   Do not become another statistic. Get the help you need. Nobody will judge you or look at you differently, and if they do, you do not need them in your life. Because that is what it is, your life.

   This can be the best time of your life, it is what you make it. So make sure you live it to the fullest. It is over too fast on its own anyway.

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