Depression and Suicide Ideation Among Students Accessing Campus Health Care


  • Brian Harahan is now at the University of Minnesota. Michael Fleming is now at Northwestern University.

  • The authors would like to thank the staff of the four university health centers for their help in collecting the data for the study. Funding for this study was provided by Grant R01 AA014685-01 from the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator: Michael Fleming).

concerning this article should be addressed to Michael Fleming, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Abbott Hall, 710 N. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, IL 60611. Electronic mail may be sent to


Depression and suicide are of increasing concern on college campuses. This article presents data from the College Health Intervention Projects on the frequency of depression and suicide ideation among 1,622 college students who accessed primary care services in 4 university clinics in the Midwest, Northwest, and Canada. Students completed the Beck Depression Inventory and other measures related to exercise patterns, alcohol use, sensation seeking, and violence. The frequency of depression was similar for men (25%) and women (26%). Thought of suicide was higher for men (13%) than women (10%). Tobacco use, emotional abuse, and unwanted sexual encounters were all associated with screening positive for depression. “Days of exercise per week” was inversely associated with screening positive for depression. Because the majority of students access campus-based student health centers, medical providers can serve a key role in early identification and intervention. With every 4th student reporting symptoms of depression and every 10th student having suicidal thoughts, such interventions are needed.