MASSACHUSETTS: After cluster of suicides, MIT works to relieve student pressure, raise awareness

May 22, 2015

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News
Speaker:  Massachusetts


On the campus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a range of efforts are underway to help students manage stress, connect positively with others, and find mental health care when they need it. There has been increased interest in such programs following a suicide cluster in which six students died over a 12-month period. Many students find that the competition and academic pressure of attending the prestigious university can be emotionally draining. One form of support offered by the school’s Student Support Services addresses academic stress directly, as sophomore Matt Ossa related: “I was able to get…a few tests pushed back a couple days, stuff like that. They’re really willing to work with people as long as they reach out.” However, experts point out that underlying mental health challenges outweigh school stress as a risk factor for suicide. “There’s actually no empirical evidence at this point that schools that are more competitive or more pressured actually have higher rates of suicide deaths than other colleges,” explained Dr. Victor Schwartz, medical director of the Jed Foundation, which works to support suicide prevention at colleges  and universities. MIT’s chapter of Active Minds, which promotes mental health awareness on campus, has seen increased interest in its events, which are designed to reduce stress and promote a sense of community.

Spark Extra! Visit SPRC’s newly updated college and university suicide prevention webpages.