People Keep Killing Themselves at My School

We’ve had three suicides in the past month. Two in the past week, within twenty-four hours of one another. I was driving to the movies with my friends on Friday, and there were police cars blocking off the path over the suspension bridge. There were more police along the detour route, at the bottom of the river, watching for the body.

We had two kids kill themselves last semester in their dorm rooms. One died on a Thursday. He was found the following Monday on account of the smell. There was also a PhD candidate, who committed suicide last Thanksgiving. Another grad student last spring, by handgun. We’ve had accidents too. One boy died of H1N1 last fall. Another died over winter break from some sort of heart failure.

People die too easily. And then they’re cold. I can’t get over that. Choosing to give up that warmth, the limbs the move you, the heart, the lungs, always working. I think about the poor boys - they’ve all been boys - sitting in their terrible, claustrophobic, unremitting rooms, making that terrible decision. They’re all cold now.

What school is it? How big is it? If it’s a huge school, it’s most likely been happening much longer than you realize.

I’m betting it’s Cornell. There’s a long, sad tradition of students throwing themselves into the gorges.

This is called “cluster suicide”.

It might be that the catalyst of one going causes the others to get up the gumption to do likewise. Japan, for instance, has double the number of suicides, probably because there isn’t the same stigma attached there, which indicates that our rates are artificially low. When one person does it first, it allows the natural order of things to go into effect.

That’s the first school I thought of, too. When I was in college, a student jumped from the roof of his dorm, rumor had it because he didn’t make honor roll that semester. 1981. :frowning:

The mention of the suspension bridge made me think of Cornell, too. I’m sure that other schools must have those, though.

Hold on just a minute partner. I’m no Japanese culture expert, but one could go so far as to say Japanese culture encourages suicide, with the long-standing traditions of Harakiri/Seppuku. So how do we know their rates are not artificially high?

Nah, it might have used to have been (among a small nobility (though even that is probably a bit of a historical retcon created in the modern era)), but not these days, and certainly not among teens. More importantly, atheists also have a higher rate of suicide. I’m just not sure what the rate is so I didn’t mention it.

The point being though that it’s an entrenched part of the culture. Hell, the Japanese even have a suicide forest (OK, it’s only the second most popular suicide location in the world after the Golden Gate Bridge).

Yes, I go to Cornell. It’s often said that we have a lot of suicides. There are about 12,000 undergrads here. I don’t know what counts as “a lot”, but one student suicide per year is about average from what I’ve seen. People are pretty spooked by how many deaths there have been in such a short period of time. You start to think there’s something in the drinking water.

I don’t know why this year has been so bad. It’s been hard on seniors. Some of the brightest people I know failed to get into any grad schools, but the suicides have mainly been freshmen and sophomores :(.

Except that it isn’t. As your own cite says, there’s a sign there telling people not to do it. I’ve seen it in manga and anime, encouraging people not to commit suicide. If there ever was a time where suicide was encouraged, that’s past. It’s either at the break even point, or moving towards discouraged at present.

Is Cornell the real life Miskatonic University? Do you have some spooky buildings with special departments in them that none of the regular students know anything about?

There are plenty of spooky old buildings, at any rate.

There’s also the weather. The skies over Ithaca get cloudy around mid-October, and you don’t see the sun again until April. I loved living there, but the winter does get a little long.

A friend of mine (Cornell, '74) could rattle off a half-dozen anecdotes off the top of his head about friends/classmates either committing suicide or at least trying it while he was there.

I think it has to be a combination of the weather and the relative isolation of Ithaca.

I opened this thread thinking the OP must be a Cornell student and then dismissing the thought because what I remember of its reputation has to be 35 years out of date. Surely things would have changed since then.

Guess not. :frowning:

My high school <almost 30 years ago> had about 2400 students in it, and there were always one or two suicides a year. It was almost a game, guessing who was going to kill themselves next. I don’t think suicide’s that uncommon, just more noticeable when you actually KNOW the people involved.

And I’m sorry for the hurt, Baby_Driver, because it does hurt, however dispassionate the facts might be.

Regardless, we’d have to look at suicide rates around the world before making a determination on whether our rate is “artificially low” or Japan’s is artificially high, or the truth lies somewhere in between.

Lol. There being a sign saying “hey don’t kill yourself here” indicates that it’s not more of a cultural norm? If anything, that indicates that it is, seeing as how the government is having to erect signs to attempt to scare off all the would-be suicides.

There are phones with lines to suicide counselors on the Golden Gate Bridge. Does that mean that Americans, or Northern Californians, are especially prone to suicide? I doubt it - although a kid in my high school did jump when I was in 11th grade. They found his backpack on the pedestrian walkway.

I didn’t know their were suicide lines on the Golden Gate Bridge! That’s fascinating.


But I would say that areas with proportionally high rates of suicide per capita tend to be populated by people especially prone to suicide, yes. I mean, I don’t see how you could say any different.