Number 72 Page Four
Sunday, January 21, 1973
Yea, I'm gonna kill myself,
get a little headline news.
I'd like to see what the papers say
on the state of teenage blues.
By KATHLEEN RICKE
"j WAS SITTING at dinner when the
feeling came. I'd had it for a
long time, but it seemed to be get-
ting a lot worse lately. Spreading up
from my stomach it filled my chest
and made my head pound with those
noises. I knew I was going to die be-
cause .it was choking me. I couldn't
stand it any longer, so I got up from
the table, put on my coat and started
out for the store. I'd been putting off
buying the pills, but I know I couldn't
any longer. I knew I had to die and it
"I remember walking to the drug
store. It was about a mile away, but
it seemed so close. I tried to make the
time last longer because once I had
the pills I couldn't put it off any-
more. It was strange watching the
people because everyone looked like '
the same leering face screaming at
me - I guess I was screaming from
the inside - and I was the only one
who could hear myself.
"I bought the pills and swallowed
them. Then I laid down in an alley
and started to cry. I knew that I
didn't want to die, but it seemed
like the only answer. My body start-
ed to feel funny-blood was rushing
to my head and
my heart was
I got up and started walking. After
three blocks I couldn't find a phone
booth and the rushes were all over.
My body started running pretty
frantically but my mind felt so cool,
like I was laying in a stream with
the water flowing over me.
"Suddenly I could hear a siren real
close and people standing all around
me. Then cold sheets and rough
hands. It was horrible, almost as bad
as the days before it."
PEOPLE ASK what could possibly
make a person want to die badly
enough to take forty sleeping pills, to
slit their wrists or head with a razor
sharp blade, to tie their belt around
their own neck and choke the life
Yet, 70,000 Americans commit sui-
cide every year, and half of these are
college students or college age people.
The most disturbing thing about
the growing number of suicides on
campuses is that they're being ig-
nored. Most people aren't aware of
the problem unless it affects their
own life, or the life of a friend. Many
university offices are reluctant to
even discuss the problem.
grades - the pressures to do well
and go on to graduate school. The
crowds of people who always seem to
be hurrying somewhere.
Often it seems there is no time to
notice someone walking across the
Diag with tears running down his or
her face, or just a sad, dejected walk.
One girl said that she hadn't realized
how bad the apathy was here until
she fell on the ice, laid there a few
minutes, while no one offered to help
herup, or even seemed to notice that
Another student spoke of a suicide
that occurred in the apartment next
door during the summer. She hadn't
noticed anything "wrong" with her
neighbor until one morning when
she heard a gun blast and saw the
blood oozing into the hallway.
Dr. Edward Bordin of the Counsel-
ling Center says suicides and suicide
attempts among college students are
seasonal in that they occur primar-
ily between October and April, peak-
ing just after school starts and dur-
ing exam periods. He believes that
ages 18 to 22 are unsettled times in
many people's lives, and that de-
pression often occurs as a result of
low self esteem in school and in so-
DEPRESSION, loneliness guilt, list-
lessness. We all have these feelings
sometimes. But when they linger for
weeks or even months at a time the
result can be suicide.
Depression often becomes so severe
that in interferes with everyday func-
tions. Sleep doesn't come easily. Meals
are forgotten or ignored because of
gnawing pangs of nervousness in the
stomach. Night becomes a dreaded
time to be left alone with the fear
and the helplessness.
People find many ways of coping
with depression. Sometimes a phone
call to a friend or a crisis center
makes the night pass more quickly.
Tranquilizers and sleeping pills can
calm the mind for a few hours.
Some try to get rid of the pain by
writing suicide letters to friends and
family. "Dear Sue, I can't help it, I
want to die-Love, Jeff."
And unfortunately some escape the
pain by cutting it out with a knife,
or a gun, or pills.
RECORDS SHOW that most unsuc-
cessful suicide attempts are made
by women and the most common
method is drug overdose.
Most suicides are committed by
men, a large percentage of them blow-
ing their heads open with guns.
Psychiatrists and psychologists have
all kinds of theories on what causes
suicides, but it is evident from talk-
ing to those who have tried that they
really don't want to die. The wish for
death is coupled with an equally
strong desire to live.
Depending on the circumstances,
one drive will win out.
It of course ultimately depends on
one's own action, but often suicides
can be prevented if the turmoil can
The sad aspect is that almost all
suicides are predictable. People us-
ually leave very clear-cut signs of
Many suicides are preceded by at
least one other attempt. Lack of
sleep, loss of appetite, loss of incen-
tive or energy, depression, and hints
like "I wish I was dead," "When I'm
gone" and "I won't need this any
more" often are made before suicide
I'm getting bored
being part of mankind,
there's not a lot to do no more,
this race is a waste of time.
DEPRESSION CAN breed fear of
others, and fear of oneself. It is
are familiar enough with this problem
to deal with it, and realize the ser-
iousness of even a threat to commit
Ethel Sechs, a counselor at the Uni-
versity Health Service, speaks of her
encounters with students contem-
plating suicide, "It scares us to death,
and we take it very seriously here."
Dr. John Hartman of the Neuro-
Psychiatric Institute says that when
cases of a t t e m p t e d suicide are
brought to the Institute, the immedi-
ate fate of the individual is up to
the psychiatrist on duty. If the doc-
tor j u d g e s the case to be severe
enough for hospitalization, the per-
son might be admitted.
If it seems that the attemptee is
in better spirits after medical treat-
ment, he or she is ofen sent home.
Unfortunately, in many cases a later
your problems over with someone, and
to get information on problem preg-
The Women's Crisis Center number
The Department of Social Services
can be helpful, especially in cases of
child abuse. Catholic Social Services
is becoming more active in community
problems, and the Red Cross offero
a counselling service, especially for
The University has a service for
students at 1007 E. Huron Street that
does both long and short term coun-
In instances of actual suicide at-
tempts Hartman recommends t h e
Neuro-Psychiatric Institute in Uni-
versity Hospital's emergency clinic.
photography by randy edmonds
r.. emsumeiise sm :">iim sss amimsam i ussilisa msam saae
Dave Patch, the director of 76-
GUIDE, a university run counselling
service, said that he "hadn't heard of
student suicide in five or six years."
While the county has records of sev-
en University student suicides in
The seven suicides do not include
deaths that are recorded "reason un-
determined", "drug overdose", "car
ran off the road", "shotgun wound--
not determined as homicide." Nor do
they include countless attempts that
are treated or neglected every day.
Statistics also ignore a
counselors recognize -
students who drop out of;
mit suicide soon after.
People rushing everywhere,
swarming round like flies,
think I'll buy a forty-four,
give 'em all a surprise.
A COLLEGE TOWN like Ann Arbor
has an atmosphere that easily
breeds depression. The competitive-
ness between students to get the bet
A friend can sometimes help ease the crisis
attempt is more successful.
Hospialization is often very helpful
if the doctors and attendants are un-
derstanding and treat patients like
human beings. But hospitalization
doesn't always prevent more suicide
attempts. For example, in one month
at Ypsilanti State Hospital there were
two in-patient suicides.
There are sometimes long waiting
lists to get a bed in a psychiatric ward
largely due to the public's pathetic
indifference, lack of awareness and
reluctance to approve state funding.
LOCAL FACILITIES for help during
personal crisis and other problems
have expanded greatly during the
past two years.
The 24 hour Crisis Walk-in Center
at 212 S.- Fourth Street is the center
fnr rnmmm , nitmpnttu r P hees U
Think I'mn gonna kill myself,
cause a little suicide,
stick around for a couple of days,
what a scandal if I died.
THE CONCEPT of suicide is com-
plex, and the magnitude is fright-
ening. The feelings are something we
all experience at times and would like
to forget, but perhaps are best not
forgotten. Ignoring the unpleasant-
ness has done nothing but isolate and
alienate the people who need help the
Because the majority of suicides
are preceded by cries for help, there
is still a lingering hope for life. A
friend can grab hold of that hope,
making the crisis less lonely and the
feelings less desperate.
The University's role in students'
health care should include a realiza-