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Pandemic Takes Toll: Quarter of Students Know Someone With Suicidal Thoughts


This article could contain information that may be triggering for some individuals. If you are in urgent need of mental health support, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

Pandemic-induced stress has taken its toll on the mental health of US college students, with over half of them (58 percent) saying they were “moderately,” “very,” or “extremely” worried about their mental health in a survey from, the nonprofit branch of Silicon Valley edtech company Chegg.

Even more worrying is the finding that almost a quarter (23 percent) of college students said they know someone with suicidal thoughts since the pandemic started. Five percent said that they attempted to kill themselves.

The survey found the percentage of Black students among those who attempted suicide was higher than the average but did not specify how much higher.

In a similar finding, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed in a survey, conducted in late-June, that one in four US adults between 18 and 24 confessed to having contemplated suicide in May due to the pandemic.

COVID-19 has also exacerbated students’ anxieties related to debt, which has traditionally been one of the reasons for students’ worries. In Chegg’s survey, one in five students said their financial pressure has increased since the outbreak started.

The thought of graduating in an economy that is in a recession is also concerning for students from the “Class of COVID.”

The survey also found widespread worry among the students of returning to campuses. Only 14 percent of the surveyed said they are willing to go back to campus in the fall for in-person classes.

Support System

Students have relied more on their fellow students for support than their parents, the survey said, with more than half of them saying they reached out to a friend whom they thought might be struggling. Nearly half (49 percent) have had a friend reach out to them. In contrast, only 30 percent said they turned to their parents for support.

Female students were more likely to take help from their parents or caregivers than their male counterparts, the survey added.

The friends’ support system was found to be particularly effective as more than 70 percent of students confirmed to having felt hopeful and supported after their friends reached out.

Listening to friends, playing video games, and studying together were the most effective stress busters for college students, the survey said, particularly for male students.

Female students, on the other hand, said they found listening to other students and asking them about how they are doing was most helpful.

Less Awareness About Campus Counselling

Despite mental health being recognized as one of the most important aspects of overall health, only four out of ten students said their educational institution provided helpful mental resources.

Out of the students who didn’t or couldn’t get help on campus, 25 percent said they didn’t feel comfortable asking for it, 11 percent said they were not convinced by the help, and 9 percent said they didn’t know that help was available. Another 7 percent said they enquired about help on campus but that there was not enough availability.

“At a time when students’ education, social networks and future have been turned upside down, it is imperative that colleges and schools do a much better job at informing students of their mental health services and making them accessible,” said Lila Thomas, head of

Are you in urgent need of mental health support? Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

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