Public Health Approach to Suicide Prevention and Management on Campus
A new report by Victor Schwartz, Chief Medical Officer of the Jed Foundation, addresses the risk of suicide among college students and explains an emerging approach to suicide prevention on college campuses. Suicide is the second leading cause of death of college-aged young adults, more than all medical illnesses combined. Schwartz argues that while the college environment can be stressful for young people, the boundaries and organized nature of colleges present opportunities to prevent suicide and manage risk. In the report, Schwartz presents the JED/SPRC Model for Comprehensive Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention for Colleges and Universities. The model is an adaptation of a public health-driven program developed by the US Air Force that had been shown to lower rates of suicide among service members. The JED/SPRC model addresses prevention (through supporting skills and enhancing connectedness), early identification and intervention for those at risk, clinical care/crisis management/postvention, and restricting access to means for self-harm. In the report, Schwartz also makes the case that psychiatrists can and should play an important role in suicide prevention on college campuses.
College Student Gambling and Associated Risky Behaviors
A new research brief from the College Life Study of The Center on Young Adult Health and Development examines the prevalence of gambling activities among college students. It explores the relationships between gambling, substance use, and risk factors including demographics, parental substance use and mental health history, behavioral disinhibition, mental health, and extracurricular involvement. The study found gambling to be associated with alcohol, marijuana, and other drug use, and that gamblers were more likely to be male, athletes, and involved in Greek life. The main predictors of gambling were found to be sex, race, behavioral dysregulation, and extracurricular involvement. The researchers found that few risk factors were exclusively associated with gambling; the effects of sex, race/ethnicity, sensation-seeking, and behavioral dysregulation on gambling and substance use were partially or completely explained by the common overlap of risk factors for both gambling and substance use.
Microaggressions Associated with Racist Attitudes Among College Students
A study published in the journal Race and Social Problems found a positive correlation between undergraduate students use of microaggressions and having racist attitudes. Microaggressions are brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, and environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults. The study measured self-reported likelihood to engage in microaggressions and racial prejudice among 118 white undergraduate students. Students’ reported likelihood of engaging in macroaggressions was significantly associated with all measures of racial prejudice, and the belief that “A lot of minorities are too sensitive” was the strongest predictor of negative feelings toward black people. Researchers concluded that microaggressions are not simply innocuous behaviors, and may be indicative of negative racial attitudes and underlying hostility toward black students.
The Role of Higher Education in Upward Mobility
In a new paper published this summer, five economists called into question higher education’s role in promoting upward mobility. Using publicly available statistics, the researchers studied 30 million students between 1999 and 2014, comparing their post-graduation earnings to the incomes of their parents. “Mobility report cards” were assigned to each college in the U.S. and showed that the top universities are largely closed to low-income students, and that the best schools for helping students from poor families are accepting fewer and fewer of them. Rates of upward mobility were found to be substantially different across colleges due to the difference in access for low income students across colleges with similar earnings outcomes. At elite private colleges, the fraction of low-income students did not change substantially between 2000-2011, but fell sharply at colleges with the highest rates of upward mobility.
Substance Use as a Predictor to Graduation and Income Level
A prospective study recently published in the Journal of American College Health showed that frequent binge drinking and marijuana use during freshman year predicted delayed college graduation and that delayed graduation is associated with lower incomes and more alcohol related problems. The report examined how freshman year substance use predicted time to college graduation, and whether delayed graduation predicted postponed adoption of adult roles and future substance use. Study authors promoted the importance of interventions during freshman year of college to decrease substance use.