Editorial: Suicide Prevention Efforts Fall Short of Need

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Attaining knowledge about any problem is crucial to combating the problem. Knowing how to approach a problem is impossible unless knowledge about it can be acquired properly.

But in dealing with the problem of suicide at UC Berkeley, the university's hands are tied-its approach to gathering suicide statistics is flawed.

Suicides that occur on the UC Berkeley campus are regarded statistically as such. Given that statistic-13 suicides since 1993-the university seems to be addressing the problem well.

But that statistic does not take into account suicides committed off campus, even if they are UC Berkeley students. Suicides at co-ops, greek houses and private homes are not statistically documented as UC Berkeley suicides.

With these flawed statistics, can the university's health services determine adequately the need for suicide prevention for UC Berkeley students? As long as the university uses its present method for gathering suicide statistics, UC Berkeley students will be subject to inadequate prevention services.

For the university to combat the suicide problem amongst its student body, more outreach programs must be developed by the university health services.

Students who are depressed often cannot even get out of bed, let alone set up appointments with the Tang Center's Counseling and Psychological Services. It is unlikely suicide prevention programs without public outreach well be effective in treating such students.

But Counseling and Psychological Services seems to be lacking in providing any sort of direct outreach to the UC Berkeley student body. Much of the direct outreach is done by Health Workers, who target a limited number of specific groups of UC Berkeley students.

In expanding prevention outreach and coming up with better methods for gathering suicide statistics, UC Berkeley health professionals will have to balance between exercising too much care and respecting its students as adults.

But the college population is a unique one, which makes determining real causes of suicide more difficult. Often, feelings of uncertainty will plague students, many of whom feel that any action taken at UC Berkeley will help determine the course of their lives.

Suicide is not the only end to depression. Students who suffer from depression will also, most likely, see poorer academic performance, making the problem much more widespread.

Depression is an epidemic that affects far too many students. To combat this epidemic and prevent more suicides, UC Berkeley health officials need to expand outreach for the services they provide.


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