Of depression and the rise of suicides among university students
“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” 1st Peter 5 verse 7
According to the American College Health Association (ACHA), suicide is fast becoming one of the leading causes of death in university students due to depression. The university period is accompanied by additional responsibilities and pressure to succeed, which may increase mental distress, depression or lead to drug abuse. In addition, university students have been found to experience low life satisfaction and to be more depressed than a non-student population of a similar age. As a result, some students may succumb to suicidal ideation and a greater risk of dying by suicide.
What is depression?
Depression (major students feel as if life is not worth living.
In Zimbabwe, headlines every year circulate of students ending their lives due to depression caused by academic pressure, relationship depressive disorder) is a common and a serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression cause feeling of sadness and loss of interest once enjoyed. It can also lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function well at school and at home. Depression can make fallouts and financial crunches. University students suicide cases are going up each and every year especially last year there were many reported cases of students committing suicide. Midlands State University having the highest number, in 2014 three students and one staff member ended their lives in the same semester. It is very challenging for students suffering from depression to balance academic pressures and financial stresses as well as maintaining a flashy lifestyle. Students especially those in higher tertiary scrounge for food, rent and assignments printing especially those doing dissertations, and they only got their funds from guardians and organizations who also find it difficult to meet their expectations. Given the ever-rising costs of college, it is not surprising that many students are stressed about money. According to the 2015 National Student Financial Awareness, 70% of university students are stressed about finances.
Relationship fallouts/ loss of relationship due to either, break up or if a partner passes away can make someone commit suicide. For instance last year there were two cases of students who killed themselves due to heartbreaks, a student from National University of Science and Technology threw herself in front of a train because she had fallen pregnant for another man yet she had a boyfriend whom her parents knew. Also, another student from Midlands State University hung himself on a shower, rumours of his demise were that he had caught her lecture bedding his girlfriend.
The rise of suicide among students is a major issue that needs to be looked into with a lot of concern and creating effective preventable measures. Knowledge concerning suicide is largely limited, mental health groups together with students’ organizations should get into universities raising awareness and teaching the student community the importance of controlling stress. The majority of people in our African societies treat cases of suicides as demonic acts.
More so, the church has an obligation to see that all people have access to needed pastoral, medical care and therapy in those circumstances that lead to loss of self-worth and suicidal despair. It is the role of the church to provide education to address the biblical, theological, social and ethical issues related to depression. Churches and students organizations should always be places of safety and community for those wrestling with any issue, especially those with mental distress.