Most Big Public Colleges Don’t Track Suicides, AP Finds

January 26, 2018

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News

Associated Press

Most of the largest U.S. public universities do not track student suicide deaths, according to the Associated Press (AP). A recent AP investigation found that less than half of the 100 largest public universities collect annual suicide data and just over a quarter have done so consistently since 2007. Experts emphasize the importance of tracking student suicides in order to identify trends and develop strategies to address them. “If you don’t collect the data, you’re doing half the job,” said prevention advocate and former Oregon Senator Gordon Smith, who lost his son to suicide. “We need information in mental health if we’re actually going to be able to better tailor health and healing.” A federal grant program named after Smith’s son, Garrett, encourages campus grantees to collect data as part of a strategic planning approach to suicide prevention. Many schools that do track student suicide use the data to improve their prevention efforts. For example, the University of Texas at Austin reduced its suicide rates after installing barriers on a clock tower that was the site of several student suicides. “One death is one death too many,” said university Counseling Center Director Chris Brownson. “And that’s why we come to work every day—to do the things that we do here to try to prevent any of those from happening.”

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