Pressure Can Push Female Collegians Over the Edge

Suicide risk greater for those with demanding parents

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TUESDAY, Feb. 25, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Parental pressure to excel in school can push female college students to consider suicide, says a Penn State study.

It found female college students who have mothers who expected academic perfection and fathers who support the mother's high expectations are more likely to consider suicide than female college students with parents who exert less pressure.

The study included a survey of 421 college students -- 227 females and 194 males. It found that 19.4 percent - one in five -- of both female and male college students contemplated suicide.

However, females accounted for 4 percent of the students who actually attempted suicide, compared to 1.1 percent for males. That means that for female students, thoughts of suicide are four times more likely to result in a suicide attempt.

The study also found the female college students most vulnerable to suicidal thoughts are those with mothers who demand academic perfection and keep raising their expectations.

That kind of parental pressure doesn't cause male students to move closer to suicide, the study says.

The study appeared in a recent issue of the Journal of Family Communication.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death in the United States for people aged 15 to 24, accounting for more deaths than heart disease, AIDS, cancer, pneumonia, stroke, influenza and chronic heart disease combined.

More information

For more about college student suicide prevention, go to the Jed Foundation.

SOURCE: Penn State University, news release, February 2003

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