Systematic review: Early intervention for suicide prevention among college students

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Illustration of suicide prevention. (Source:

College students are important in relation to their role that is highly anticipated by the community. Aside from being educated, they can also make social changes for a better life and make important contributions to the country. Physical, psychological, social environment and the demands of completing campus assignments often cause them stress, as they are unable to complete assignments, all paths are unavailable due to conflicts with lecturers, friends, parents and attempted suicide often becomes an alternative. Therefore, university managers must seriously pay attention to this condition to prevent an increase in the incidence of suicide among students.

Suicide arises as a significant psychological health problem because it is ranked the second highest cause of death. WHO (2017) notes that 20 people who commit suicide are in the age range of 15-29 years. A study stated that 35% of college students in the United States reported experiencing depression and learning difficulties, another 50% reported experiencing extreme anxiety that made it difficult for them to succeed academically. The Center for Collegiate Mental Health (CCMH), a mental health and counseling organization reports more than 263 universities, found that nearly 33% of students come with serious mental health problems, even with ideas and attempts of suicide.

The author conducted a systematic review based on electronic data, on references published in the last five years (2014-2019) on several online databases; Scopus, Proquest, Pubmed, Cinahl, and Sagepub. We limited our search by using the keywords “intervention”, “suicide” and “peer work”.

The results of the systematic review found 15 articles correlated with suicide prevention in college students. Five studies were used online with web-based interventions, while the other 10 studies were traditionally conducted face-to-face meetings. Some of the advantages and disadvantages of suicide risk prevention interventions found include; training involving campus staff gives the advantage of being more friendly, safer, lecturers as the first line of defense in providing immediate assistance to students at risk of suicide. The drawback is that they become more busy having to collect additional data in identifying their students.

Ten studies conducted manually (through the service corner) have drawbacks because students must come to see a therapist, it has its stigma even respondents do not want to be open. This condition can interfere with the response and results of the consultation. Among these ten studies, two used interventions that provided training for students to participate in providing assistance to their friends. Two studies used counseling facilities, two provided knowledge about signs of suicide, one provided positive mind exercises.

Five web / online intervention studies have the disadvantage as it could not control participants to be more active through web-based or online health programs, and the advantages are not only improving mental health and reducing the risk of suicide but also reducing stigma in participants because they can communicate anonymously on the forum. Therefore, this intervention increases motivation to utilize mental health assistance from online professionals and can take a large sample of participants.

Some good things for the campus is that online assistance for mental health is an area for suicide prevention and reducing stigma, and is more innovative, effective and efficient in terms of time and place. This condition is very suitable with the current lifestyle, where students expect more practical, more innovative media, interesting and fun material. The form of material can be presented on fliers, interesting online leaflets, using vlogs and the like.

Further research can involve more institutions in studies, for example by helping to promote and motivate students to join programs for handling, using the right media, managed carefully with accurate operational standard procedures for solving problems. This program can be included in an integrated campus service program that provides better student service facilities. (*)

Author: Ah. Yusuf

The full article can be viewed through the following link:

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