Back in the spring I found a dead body, a victim of suicide, on a wooded hillside in Ohio. He was just a 20-year-old kid, a college student, I learned later on. I am thisclose to not posting any comment because even the word “suicide’ conjures up fresh images of that kid’s face, and of his name, and the whole thing is hitting a little too close to home, to be honest. But hey we’ve gotta get the grades, right? So, here goes.
Yes, the article’s suicide statistics for college students are overwhelming. For many, campus culture is a nightmare. But, unlike the article’s author, I’m not as quick to pin the blame on overparenting or on what she calls a “culture of hyperachievement among the affluent.’ At the risk of sounding overly cynical, the author knows the New York Times’ audience is largely comprised of affluent, “over-parenting” “hyperacheivers.” If she can tap into that audience’s self-doubt and parenting concerns, so this admittedly cynical line of reasoning goes, then that audience is much more likely to click on all the links and read all the things. Again, I’m probably being too cynical and should rethink my mood, but there are other studies that place the blame for suicide clusters on reasons other than helicopter parents. For instance, this one says irresponsible media coverage that sensationalizes suicide stories is the culprit: https://www.livescience.com/45290-teen-suicide-clusters-news.html
I think it’s worth mentioning that the job market, what all those young people are tirelessly working toward, is a nightmare, too. We put so much pressure on kids to succeed and once they graduate we are offering them almost nothing in return for their hard work except for stagnant wages, mountains of student loan debt and, in some cases, near-meaningless degrees. We’re creating a generation of desperate people and desperate people often resort to desperate solutions.
Regardless of who or what’s to blame for suicide clusters, we as teachers need to know what our obligations to self-destructive students are. I found this Washington Post article that mentions this on-line suicide prevention training program: https://www.kognito.com