College Students 17% More Likely to Be Depressed Now than Five Years Ago

Kathryn Quirk
Screening for Mental Health
(781) 591-5247,
or Jenna Brown
(781) 791-4558,

National Depression Screening Day is October 7th—Free, Anonymous Online Screenings Available at

WELLESLEY, Mass. (October 6, 2010) – In observance of Mental Illness Awareness Week, Screening for Mental Health released data revealing that 18 to 25 year olds are 17% more likely to be depressed now than five years ago. This information, which compared online screening data from 2005 to data from 2010, comes on the heels of a report released last week from the Centers for Disease Control stating that 1 in 10 Americans are depressed‎. However despite rising rates of depression, particularly among college students, a 2009 Associated Press poll revealed that the majority of depressed college students did not intend to speak with a mental health professional about their problems.

The prevalence of depression and related symptoms among college students is cause for concern, particularly in light of the fact that the risk of suicide in people with major depression is about 20 times that of the general population. While recent media coverage of young adult suicide has brought this issue to national attention, suicide has been a growing issue on college campuses, ranking as the second leading cause of death of college students. An estimated 1,100 college students take their own lives each year; an alarming figure for parents, educators, and young adults alike. However, suicide remains widely misunderstood.

“There is this myth that people who talk about suicide don’t do it. In fact, we know that 70% of people who die by suicide have let someone know their intention but that person often does not know what to do,” says Douglas G. Jacobs, M.D., founder of Screening for Mental Health. “While not all depressed people have thoughts of suicide. People who are suicidal usually are depressed. The goal of screening is to identify depression early on, when it is easier to treat, thus averting the tragedy of suicide.”

Treatment for depression and other mood disorders is effective more than 80% of the time, and is crucial to the reduction of suicide. However, according to a survey of college counseling centers, 81% of the students who died by suicide last year had never been clients of their school’s counseling center. For this reason, it is important for peers and educators to be on the lookout for warning signs of suicide, and direct anyone that they think may be depressed or suicidal to the appropriate resources.

Warning signs of suicide:

Anyone who observes or experiences the following behaviors and feelings should seek help by contacting a mental health professional or calling 1-800-273-TALK for a referral:

•    Hopelessness
•    Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
•    Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
•    Feeling trapped—like there’s no way out
•    Increased alcohol or drug use
•    Withdrawing from friends, family, and society
•    Anxiety, agitation, inability to sleep or sleeping all the time
•    Dramatic mood changes
•    No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life

People who observe any of the following behaviors should dial 9-1-1 or seek immediate help from a mental health provider:

•    Someone threatening to hurt or kill him/herself, or talking about wanting to hurt or kill him/herself
•    Someone looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means
•    Someone talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person

On Thursday, October 7th, more than 500 colleges nationwide will participate in National Depression Screening Day, giving students access to free, anonymous in-person screening events or the opportunity to take an online screening at

About Screening for Mental Health
Screening for Mental Health, Inc. (SMH) is dedicated to promoting the improvement of mental health by providing the public with education, screening, and treatment resources. SMH pioneered the concept of large-scale mental health screening and education programs in 1991, with its flagship program, National Depression Screening Day (NDSD). SMH programs—provided both in-person and online—educate, raise awareness, and screen individuals for depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, alcohol use disorders, and suicide.