Student Suicide Rates Rise at Cornell – Why?

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It’s not something they’re proud of, but Cornell University has long been known for their high rate of student suicide. They experienced a bit of reprieve from the tragic trend between 2005 and 2008, but this school year hasn’t been quite as positive.

Since the beginning of the year, Cornell has reported six suicides, with three in the last month.  It’s gotten so dire that, as a temporary measure, they have even placed fencing on campus bridges.  The University is aware that the issue is much larger than physical blockades, and that a long-term solution needs to be implemented.  For the time being, security guards will be posted along the bridges as well.

Reading this tragic news disturbs me greatly and raises an array of questions on several tangents. 

The most obvious question that has always circulated, is why Cornell?  What about this particular school leads to such a trend? There are some theories relating to the “demands” of the school, and the physical isolation, but it is hard to believe that these reasons are explanatory enough.  Considering that there are certainly other demanding schools, and other schools that are in isolated locations, there must be something else.  So, what else is it?

It is also interesting to look at how it affects potential students.  Does it stop students from applying? Or do they ignore it and apply anyway because of the prestige of the school? If so, why or why not?  Furthermore, how do parents feel about their children applying to a school that is known for high suicide rates?

More specifically, I have to wonder how effective the fences will be.  Not that I am an expert by any means, but logic would lead me to believe that if a student was serious about taking their own life, they could probably find another means to do so.  Will the fences prevent suicide, or will students take alternate routes if they are honestly committed to doing so?  As tragic as it is, this could be a possibility.

These questions of suicide and elevated suicide rates may never be answered, but at least trying to find an answer may lead to some conclusions and preventative measures.

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