The photo above shows a traveling exhibition by Active Minds, an advocacy group, consisting of 1100 backpacks which represents the approximate number of undergraduates who commit suicide each year. This number has been on the rise in recent years in colleges and universities across the nation.
What is leading to this increase is multifaceted. According to an article in the New York Times, increased expectation both from the parents and the students themselves along with the relentless comparison to a peer group through social media are two of the contributing factors.
Rather than helicopter parents one college administrator said we have moved into lawnmower parents who no longer hover but become intrinsically involved, clearing a path for their college student that potentially robs the young adult of the ability to function of their own accord. On this trend, Ms. Lythcott-haims wrote:
Children “deserve to be strengthened, not strangled, by the fierceness of a parent’s love. If by adulthood they cannot fend for themselves,” she asked, “shouldn’t we worry?”
These students can become very attuned to parent’s expectations. Failure to meet with approval, or fear of that eventuality, can send them into a spiral of conflict and depression. Schools are looking at steps to counter these rising rates of depression and anxiety. On campus counseling, resource centers and open discussions about the university’s culture are some of the ways universities are hoping to support students.
For access to the full New York Times article, read here.