Recent suicides of prominent celebrities have captured headlines around the world. There is always the usual Monday morning quarterbacking about what the person was thinking and how the tragedy could have been prevented. One of the most important things to identify is associated problems which can contribute to an increased suicide risk.
Many college students have an increased risk of suicide, and altered sleep patterns, along with depression, may be important markers for suicide risk. A recent study of 1,700 college students has found a link between sleep problems, depression, and suicide risk. The study group was collected from two different universities. The group was 65% female (and predominately white) and in their first year of college. Assessments of sleep quality, depression, and suicidal behavior were made using standard and well recognized questionnaires. The results of the study showed that 64% of the study group had sleep problems, and 24% of those had an increased suicide risk. In addition, 83% of the students with a suicide risk also had sleep problems. Upon analyzing the data further, it was found that students with depression had a six and a half times greater risk of suicide and students with sleep problems had a two and a half times greater suicide risk.
These results suggest that resolving sleep problems in college students, along with early intervention, may be a way to reduce the number and risks of suicide in this group. Talking to your college-age children and having them screened for sleep problems could be life saving.