About College students and suicide

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Education is the best source of investment for long-term economic prosperity and growth (Blosnich, & Bossarte, 2012). Education entails providing communities, especially young people, with required and sufficient information and skills. However, if this critical growth target is not well managed, it may have catastrophic and tragic effects. The most negative impact of schooling is an increase in suicidal behavior among students. According to research, suicide is the leading cause of death for college students in the United States. For instance, in 2012, research from the American College Health Association indicated that six percent of college student accepted they had intentions to commit suicide while another group of 1.1 percent admitted to have attempted to commit suicide (Blosnich, & Bossarte, 2012).

Depression is the main contributor to suicidal acts among students. Cases of lack of adequate sleep, drug abuse, academic challenges, financial problems, poor relationships and loneliness often cause depression among college students (Merrell, 2013). As a result students develop suicide ideation or attempt to commit suicide. This research paper seeks to advocate for inclusion and adoption of lighter college course load due to fact that many students are committing suicide because of their inability to handle pressure and fear of failing.

Teachers have a responsibility of instilling skills and knowledge to students (Hershner & Chervin, 2014). Skills and knowledge acquired are meant to make students enjoy good life in future, be useful members of society and contribute in national building and development. Parents on the other hand wish to see their children become successful and even accomplish big goals. In fact some parents even go to an extent of exerting unreasonable pressure on their children to achieve goals which they believe they failed to achieve for various reasons. In their pursuit to achieve these goals both teachers and parents subjected students to huge academic workloads and academic perfections.

In an attempt to instill analytical, critical and thinking skills to learners the teachers overwork the learners by giving them numerous and complex assignments. While issuing the assignments to students, majority of teachers do not put into account existence of students with special needs. Significantly, different students have different levels of comprehending and retaining learning content (Hershner & Chervin, 2014). Heavy workloads and challenging assignments are aimed at provoking learners’ thinking and also increasing learners’ curiosity to explore various fields of study. In spite of the fact that challenging responsibilities and a lot of assignments improves students’ analytical, critical and problem solving skills they subject learners to many untold sufferings. Doctor Rodolfo Sandin, a qualified and competent psychiatrist at one time said that an overly large workload can have harmful effects to college students (Kiilakoski & Oksanen, 2011).

First the overly burdensome academic workload presents to students a lot of work. The students are required to undertake extensive research work, attend to numerous assignments and carry out a number of practical exercises among many other responsibilities. This proves a bit challenging to many learners more also students with specific learning difficulties (Kiilakoski & Oksanen, 2011). Strict deadlines set to meet specific assignments exert a lot of pressure to students as they attempt to beat the deadline. The high pressure imposed on students creates anxiety in them. Consequently high anxiety causes fear and depression among the students since they are unable to cope up with numerous tasks assigned to them.

Secondly, large academic workloads present to students a number of expectations. Both the teachers and parents expect the students to perform exemplary well despite overloading them with a lot of learning activities. Students who fail to perform well are considered as failures and they are often stigmatized. The negative attitude developed towards academic failure in return creates fear among the students. The students become worried of what would happen in case they do not meet the expectations of their parents and teachers. Significantly, the fear of failing creates anxiety among learners which in turn leads to depression.

Research has shown that an overly burdensome course work contributes greatly to depression in students. Huge assignments deprive the students sleeping hours and subject them to emotional and psychological trauma.

Depression among students has been identified as a pre-disposing factor to committing suicide. When the students are overburdened by course work they get angered, become discouraged and feel as if they are being punished (Merrell, 2013). The situation of large academic workloads is exacerbated by the fact that many institutions and families may lack adequate financial power to avail required learning and reading materials to students. Consequently, learners will have to search for learning materials elsewhere hence making the whole process cumbersome and difficult. Students who are depressed as a result of huge workloads develop negative attitude towards learning. When students are depressed they develop specific emotional and psychological traits that exposes them to suicidal ideation and even actual commitment of suicide (Wong, Koo, Tran, Chiu & Mok, 2011). These traits include;

Hopelessness: When the students are not able to handle the large volumes of academic work assigned to them, they develop a feeling that life is not fair or worth the effort they are making. They instead lose hope in life and they only see the negative things in their life.

Lose of interests in various activities: Depressed learners often lose interest in most activities including some of activities which they previously enjoyed. Indeed they abandon activities which they once had interests in.

Reduced self-esteem: Poor academic performance makes students lose their identity. Students with low self-esteem develop a feeling that they cannot achieve anything in life. In fact they suffer from inferiority complex where they see their colleagues being superior to them. In addition, they feel guilt of their incompetence.

Relationship difficulties: Students suffering from depression experience difficulties while socializing with other people and as a result they do not disclose the challenges or problems facing them (Cukrowicz, Schlegel, Smith, Jacobs, Van Orden, Paukert & Joiner, 2011).

Self- destruction thoughts: Students who suffer from depression always think of bad things about themselves. For instance such students frequent wish that they die or kill themselves.

Inflicting themselves with injury: Depression makes the student lose their identity and self-esteem (Toprak, Cetin, Guven, Can & Demircan, 2011). When student have low self-esteem they always feel that life is not worth living and as a result they may inflict injuries in their bodies, for example, biting their skin or cutting their body parts such as fingers. Nevertheless, depressed student may subject their bodies to burns.

All these depression characteristics expose the learners to suicide ideation and also actual commitment of suicide. Surely, heavy academic workload contributes to suicide activities among college students.

Lighter course load should be adopted to eliminate suicidal cases in colleges. When the workload is small the students are able to understand the small content better. In addition the students will not experience the high pressure of accomplishing many tasks and meeting strict deadlines. Reasonable course work allows students to relax and engage in co-curriculum activities such as playing ball games and athletic activities. These co-curriculum activities are important in maintaining physical body fitness and also mental fitness.

Lighter academic workload ensures inclusivity of all students. Students who have learning difficulties can cope up with fewer learning activities while those are talented can use the extra time created to explore and discover new things (Mackenzie, Wiegel, Mundt, Brown, Saewyc, Heiligenstein & Fleming, 2011).

Students who are relieved off overly burdensome course work normally get ample time to sleep. Heavy coursework is always associated with abnormal sleeping schedules, daytime sleeping and deprivation of sleep. Research has found that 50% of college students sleep during day time and approximately 70% of them do not get enough sleep (Cukrowicz, Schlegel, Smith, Jacobs, Van Orden, Paukert & Joiner, 2011). Poor sleeping pattern greatly contributes to depression among the college students. In addition sleep deprivation reduces concentration during class time and consequently poor performance.

When students get sufficient sleep they pay attention to lessons during daytime and their knowledge retention is enhanced. Definitely, such students often record good performance and therefore fear of failing is minimized.

Lighter course work acts as motivation to learners. Motivated students are always happy, have high self-esteem and are hopeful of bright future. High self-esteem helps the students to achieve self –actualization and realize their full potential. Motivated students often achieve good academic performance and thus fear of failure is eliminated. Happiness, joy and high self-esteem keeps off depression from the students, consequently, risks of suicide ideation and suicide commitment are greatly reduced.

When students are happy they can freely associate with one another as well as the entire society at large. Good social skills allow student to develop good and health relationships, as consequence they can share their problems with one another and come with appropriate solutions. When students share their problems and challenges with one another, the risks of contradicting depression are reduced. Reduced depression implies that acts of committing suicide are minimized.

Conclusion

In general, imposing huge and unreasonable work course has contributed to suicidal ideation and commitment of suicide (Yusoff, Rahim, Baba, Ismail & Pa, 2013). Cases involving students committing suicide are on rise and if appropriate measures are not taken and implemented the situation may worsen. The duty of eliminating suicidal acts among college students should involve all relevant stakeholders. Both teachers and parents should work together to ensure that suicidal ideation and suicide acts are eliminated.

Curriculum developers should come up with curriculum program that aims at reducing the workload while at the same time ensuring that all the necessary skills and attitude are instilled in students. Heavy academic course work that seems to encourage commitment of suicide acts among college students should be discouraged and abolished.

Reasonable and lighter course work should be adopted as a preventive measure towards curbing suicide cases among college students (Yusoff, Rahim, Baba, Ismail & Pa, 2013). Notably, moderate course activities eliminate cases of depression among student through promotion of positive attitudes in students.

References

Blosnich, J., & Bossarte, R. (2012). Drivers of disparity: differences in socially based risk factors of self-injurious and suicidal behaviors among sexual minority college students. Journal of American College Health, 60(2), 141-149.

Cukrowicz, K. C., Schlegel, E. F., Smith, P. N., Jacobs, M. P., Van Orden, K. A., Paukert, A. L., … & Joiner, T. E. (2011). Suicide ideation among college students evidencing subclinical depression. Journal of American College Health, 59(7), 575-581.

Hershner, S. D., & Chervin, R. D. (2014). Causes and consequences of sleepiness among college students. Nat Sci Sleep, 6, 73-84.

Kiilakoski, T., & Oksanen, A. (2011). Cultural and peer influences on homicidal violence: A Finnish perspective. New Directions for Student Leadership, 2011(129), 31-42.

Mackenzie, S., Wiegel, J. R., Mundt, M., Brown, D., Saewyc, E., Heiligenstein, E., … & Fleming, M. (2011). Depression and suicide ideation among students accessing campus health care. American journal of orthopsychiatry, 81(1), 101-107.

Merrell, K. W. (2013). Helping students overcome depression and anxiety: A practical guide. Guilford Publications.

Toprak, S., Cetin, I., Guven, T., Can, G., & Demircan, C. (2011). Self-harm, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts among college students. Psychiatry research, 187(1), 140-144.

Wong, Y. J., Koo, K., Tran, K. K., Chiu, Y. C., & Mok, Y. (2011). Asian American college students’ suicide ideation: A mixed-methods study. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 58(2), 197.

Yusoff, M. S. B., Rahim, A. F. A., Baba, A. A., Ismail, S. B., & Pa, M. N. M. (2013). Prevalence and associated factors of stress, anxiety and depression among prospective medical students. Asian journal of psychiatry, 6(2), 128-133.

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