Colleges and Universities

Suicide and suicidal behaviors are a major concern for colleges and universities. Suicide is a leading cause of death among college and university students in the United States (see Scope of the Problem section).1 In addition to the students who die by suicide, many others struggle with suicidal thoughts and other mental health problems. Fortunately, colleges and universities also provide unique opportunities for comprehensive suicide prevention planning.  

Recognizing the importance of addressing suicide prevention in these settings, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has provided grants to support suicide prevention in campus communities since 2005. For more on the Garrett Lee Smith Suicide Prevention Program, see our Grantees page

Why Address Suicide Prevention 

  • Mental health issues often first appear between the ages of 18 and 24, so colleges are uniquely situated to help these young people.2 
  • Students’ mental health can affect their academic performance. 
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors can impact the entire campus community. 

How Colleges and Universities Can Take Action 

The best way to prevent suicide is to use a comprehensive approach that includes these key components:  


  1. Schwartz, A. J. (2006). College student suicide in the United States: 1990–1991 through 2003–2004. Journal of American College Health54(6), 341–352.
  2. Kessler, R. C., Berglund, P., Demler, O., Jin, R., & Merikangas, K. R. (2005). Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Archives of General Psychiatry62, 593–602.

Learn More

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