Help seeking and treatment use among suicidal college students

J Am Coll Health. 2012;60(2):104-14. doi: 10.1080/07448481.2011.619611.


Objectives: Many suicidal college students do not receive mental health treatment, and the reasons for this are not fully understood. This study examines how attitudes, beliefs, and social network factors relate to help seeking among suicidal students.

Participants: A random sample of 8,487 undergraduate and graduate students from 15 US universities participated.

Methods: A Web-based survey administered in spring 2009 examined correlates of mental health service utilization among students reporting serious thoughts of suicide in the previous year (n = 543).

Results: Correlates of treatment use included perceived need, beliefs that treatment is effective, contact with service users, lower personal stigma, higher perceived stigma, fewer positive relationships, and sexual minority or Caucasian identity.

Conclusions: Help seeking among suicidal students is associated with a range of personal and social network factors. Campus strategies to enhance help seeking should be tailored to address identified facilitators and barriers to treatment use among target populations.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Stigma
  • Social Support
  • Student Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • United States
  • Universities
  • Young Adult