OPINION: Why are people killing themselves at Rowan University?
There's an issue concerning suicide at all universities and anywhere young people live today.
Last Thursday, a student fell from a parking garage. Some on campus and online are saying it was a suicide, but Rowan University officials refused to confirm that. Just a week before, there was a confirmed suicide case at the school.
Lots of people on Twitter and elsewhere online are hinting at a much larger problem at the school with the issue. Ten people have died from the school already this semester, but the school says only three were suicide. Some online are claiming that number is 8.
I talked to a high school senior this weekend who was thinking of going to Rowan, but in light of what's going on at the school, she's rethinking her options. Some online have been critical that they say the school doesn't offer enough help to students who are in crisis and preventing suicide. A school or any institution can only do so much. This is not just a problem at any one school or part of the country. Or only in this country for that matter. The U.S. ranks 27th in the world for the highest suicide rates, far behind many Eastern European countries that top the list. Yet, here in this country, where we have so much and life if so good comparatively speaking the suicide rate is way too high.
The problem is much higher in males than in females, by more than triple the rate. Why are the numbers so high at a time of such prosperity and relative peace, compared to much more dangerous and desperate times in our history? Is it the isolation of everyone having more of their connections online than face to face? Is it the depression people get from constantly comparing our lives to the illusion of other peoples' lives on social media? Could it be people drifting away from religion in our increasingly secular society? The more choices we have to be comfortable and find pleasure and leisure, the less real meaning we have in our lives. Families have disintegrated and drifted from the central place they used to have in our lives in many cases — replaced by the self satisfaction of independence, that apparently isn't satisfying at all.
Something's happened in the last dozen years and no one is sure what that is exactly. The suicide rate for young adults has soared in the last decade, reaching record levels in 2017 and showing no signs of improving anytime soon. Rowan may be trying to downplay any epidemic of suicide at their school, but make no mistake the epidemic is everywhere.
The only way to escape it from happening to people in our own sphere is to make sure we find meaning in those relationships we have and communicating with each other in an authentic way. Make sure the young adults in your life know how much they mean to you and how much their lives mean to the world.