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J Am Coll Health. 2006 May-Jun;54(6):353-66.

Four eras of study of college student suicide in the United States: 1920-2004.

Author information

  • 1University of Counseling Center, University of Rochester, New York 14627-0356, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Am Coll Health. 2006 Sep-Oct;55(2):98.


Studies of college student suicide can be grouped into the following 4 eras: 1920-1960, 1960-1980, 1980-1990, and 1990-2004. The suicide rate for students has declined monotonically across these 4 eras, from 13.4 to 8.0 to 7.5 and, most recently, to 6.5. The decreasing proportion of men in the student populations studied largely accounts for this decline. Since 1960, the suicide rate for students has consistently been about half the rate of the general US population, matched for age and gender. This highly favorable relative suicide rate is the result of firearms having been effectively banned from campuses. Additional population-oriented approaches warrant implementation to further reduce student-suicide rates. Approaches focused on high-risk groups also hold promise. These findings are based upon and may be most valid for the 70% of all students who attend 4-year colleges and universities full time.

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