Leading Causes of Death Among College Students

When you think of a college student the first thought that comes to mind is probably not what they are most likely to die from. According to the study Causes of Mortality Among College Students, the three most common causes of death among college aged students, ages 18 -24, are accidents, including alcohol related injuries, suicide, and cancer[1]. Here we examine the scientific, cultural, and ethical aspects of all of these, and how college students are affected by them.

Accidents are the most common cause of death among college age students and there are countless variations of these incidents, but the largest subgroup of accidents killing college age adults are alcohol related. Alcohol is a drug, specifically a depressant, consumed by over 60% of college students on at least a monthly basis[2]. Depressants are drugs that reduce the function of some aspect of the nervous system to levels below what normally occur when the body is not under the influence of a drug. Alcohol in particular is a deadly depressant because it affects our brain’s ability to complete more highly integrated tasks like driving a car or performing some other skilled task[3]. Even in the smallest of doses, an individual who consumes alcohol can be considered impaired because there is no threshold of Blood Alcohol Content, BAC, that once reached with induce impairment[4]. BAC measures the amount of alcohol in grams of ethanol per 100 millimeters of blood, but it is not a perfect measure because level of impairment can depend on age, weight, time period of consumption and a number of other factors[5].

Alcohol can kill both actively, in the sense that the alcohol itself does the killing, and passively, meaning that impairment due to alcohol leads to the death of an individual. In the passive sense of a car crash, reduced ability to drive can be caused by a BAC of 0.03% or less, the equivalent of 1 to 2 drinks[6] [7]. At a BAC level of 0.05% drivers start to ignore rules and instructions on the road, and at a level of 0.08% or higher impairment is clearly demonstrated in drivers[8]. In the active sense, alcohol can kill by impairing brain function to the point where actions that are necessary for survival, such as breathing or a functioning gag reflex, stop working, this condition, known as alcohol poisoning, can be brought about through binge drinking[9].

Binge drinking is considered 4 or more drinks for females, and 5 or more for males, in one sitting. Binge drinking has become the culture of many colleges in past decades, and continues to affect students across the nation. One study found that college students engage in binge drinking more than their same-age non-college peers, proving that alcohol is a central part of college culture. Another study done over 2 years found that over “500,000 students were unintentionally injured because of drinking and more than 600,000 were hit/ assaulted by another drinking student”[10]. In 2002, the National Institute of Heath sent a task force to research drinking across campuses, resulting in the article, A Call to Action: Changing the Culture of Drinking on U.S. College Campuses[11]. Since then, there has been a downward trend in alcohol-related traffic deaths, but non-traffic deaths and hospitalizations for overdoses involving alcohol have risen significantly[12]. What is it about the culture of college that leads to such dangerous engagement with alcohol?

A study that examined colleges in three countries (America, Argentina and Spain), determined that all three held similar beliefs about alcohol being central to the college experience, but important cultural differences create discrepancies in the expectations of how alcohol is consumed. In Europe (and Argentina), many students live at home, not ‘on campus’, which leads to different meanings of ‘college parties’[13]. Furthermore, alcohol is deeply rooted in Argentinian and Spanish culture, but used more tamely for family gatherings, meals, and celebrations. While alcohol is perceived as ‘normal’ across college settings, the intent for which it is used has been found more dangerous in the US than some other cultures.

Our society and media has created the belief that binge drinking is a central focus of attending college. According to the author, Miller DeMond, “the focus of alcohol awareness explains to students as they are entering college that it is acceptable to drink, despite the illegality of underage drinking. Coming onto the college scene, where students experience freedom to act for themselves like adults, drinking is not only encouraged but expected in college culture”[14]. The dangerous drinking culture created in colleges is encouraged outside of the universities themselves, and our society has a responsibility to change the way heavy drinking is perceived.

Currently, there seems to be an attitude of “we know you’re doing it but don’t let us catch you” around underage drinking in college. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, one of the National Institutes of Health, said “Drinking at college has become a ritual that students often see as an integral part of their higher education experience.” In a survey, the NIAA found that over half of respondents (college students, age 18-22) had alcohol in the past month, and ⅔ had engaged in binge drinking.[15] It is clear the colleges need to educate incoming students about alcohol, however alcohol education for college students seems to focus more on doing it safely rather than preventing it all together. Programs such as AlcoholEdu are often presented to first years as they enter college. The Everfi site, where you can access AlcoholEdu, describes it as “inspiring students to make healthier decisions related to alcohol and other drugs.” [16] Presenting programs like these to students as soon as they enter college gives the impression that drinking in college is expected, contributing to the drinking culture that surrounds college life. Giving students an online course also allows them to skip through the course without really paying attention to its message. Colleges could instead include education about alcohol in orientations, and make students aware of the drinking culture that exists on college campuses, as well as the consequences of underage drinking, including alcohol related accidents.

A diagram visualizing binge drinking. https://www.pumphreylawfirm.com/blog/binge-drinking-on-college-campuses-the-dangers-associated-with-drinking-to-excess/

Suicide is the second most likely cause of death among college aged students. Suicide is a general term to describe a person that takes their own life, but it can be brought on by a myriad of factors including mental disorders, which themselves are also caused by a number of factors like stress or anxiety.[17] In fact, over 90% of those who commit suicide have some sort of mental disorder at the time of their death, and depression is the most common of those mental illnesses.[18] Depression is a mental illness that can be caused by disturbances in brain chemistry and it can be associated with genetic as well as environmental factors.

The brain is an amazingly complex organ responsible for every function of the human body. The brain is made up of cells called neurons which are in constant communication with each other via electrical impulses so that the body can react to the environment around it. Neurons communicate with each other through the use of neurotransmitters which travel the distance of the tiny gap between neurons, the synapse, so the message can continue to its destination. Depression can be caused by an imbalance of those chemical messengers within the synapse, specifically Glutamate, Serotonin, and Dopamine.[19] Glutamate is responsible for getting the signals between neurons to transmit, serotonin helps to regulate functions like sleep, mood, and hunger, and dopamine is associated with feelings of pleasure and addiction, as well as movement.[20] College can be a stressful and demanding time for young adults and there is no cookie cutter definition of depression or combination of factors that will lead to depression and therefore could be avoided. It is important to note that depression is not solely caused by an imbalance in neurotransmitters, this is just one of the many factors that can cause depression, which if untreated, can lead to suicide.[21]

College creates a unique culture of pressure, expectations, and instability that can leave students prone to mental health problems. According to a New York Times article, anxiety and depression are the most common mental health diagnoses among college students.[22] The culture of higher education can create an atmosphere of pressure from parents, teachers, and society to be flawless. The same NYT article cites, “[a] perception that one has to be perfect in every academic, co-curricular and social endeavor, can manifest as demoralization, alienation or conditions like anxiety or depression.[23]” This culture poses potential danger to students, as they become afraid of failure, and sometimes define themselves by it. Unique to the university of Pennsylvania, but relatable to all college students, Penn Face, “describes the practice of acting happy and self-assured even when sad or stressed” and is, “a potentially life-threatening aspect of campus culture.” [24] The culture of perfectionism seen in many colleges creates concern for mental health issues, and self-harm.

Along with the pressure of perfectionism, the instability associated with college culture leaves students highly vulnerable. Dr. Uchida, of Fukushima University, quotes, “youths are expected to rapidly form their identities and are exposed to psychosocial risk factors such as academic stress and relationship troubles, which are associated with psychiatric difficulties and suicide.” [25] Being thrown into a culture of uncertainty while away from support systems can lead students to develop mental health issues they might not have at home. The American College Health Association administered a survey across the country and found that 28.4% of students, diagnosed or not, “felt so depressed that it was difficult to function.” [26] One Huffington Post headline says it all: In the Name of College! What Are We Doing to Our Children? [27]

While many college students today will experience a mental health crisis at some point, not all are aware of the resources available to them, or even the signs to look out for regarding their mental health and the mental health of their peers. According to a study done by the National Institute on Mental Illness (NAMI), of college students living with mental illness, 73% experienced a mental health crisis, yet 35% did not inform their school of the crisis.[28] When students enter college their freshman year, there is a lot of emphasis put on things like drinking, drugs, and sexual assault. These are all important topics, but it is also important that students be made aware of mental health. Students need to be educated on signs of mental illness in themselves and others, what to do, and where they can go for help. When asked about what mental health resources are needed on campus, one of the top things students listed was “Mental health information during campus tours, orientation, health classes and other campus-wide events.”[29]

According to the same NAMI study, over 45% of students who withdrew due to mental illness did not seek help for their conditions. The number one reason cited for not seeking help was fear of stigma[30]. Despite a growing awareness, there is still a stigma surrounding mental illness and its treatment. This stigma is even more pronounced around illnesses such as schizophrenia. The onset of schizophrenia typically occurs in the late teens to twenties or thirties[31], so it is important it be included in college students’ mental health education. A study done in the United Kingdom showed that 70% of people viewed individuals with schizophrenia as “dangerous or unpredictable.”[32] Another study showed that the stress caused by stigma may actually contribute to the transition to schizophrenia in young people who are at risk of a psychotic illness.[33] Of the mental health education that is available to students, most of it is focused on illnesses like depression and anxiety. While it is important to reduce stigma around all forms of mental illness, it is especially important with more serious conditions such a schizophrenia. Increasing awareness and removing the stigma will allow students to feel more comfortable seeking treatment and support, and hopefully reduce the number of young adults that die by suicide.

UNC Counseling and Psychological Services. https://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2018/01/higher-ed-suicide-0121

Cancer is the third most likely cause of death for college aged students with some of the most common diagnosis’s being brain cancer, leukemia and liver cancer[34]. Specific cancer such as the ones listed above have their own specific features and locations, but it is the basic function of the general cancer cell that can be associated with the majority of cancer related deaths[35]. Cancers form in a complicated process that starts with the genetic mutation of just one cell within the body. Every cell operates on some sort of ‘cell clock’ that dictates when a cell should or should not replicate based on the presence or absence of specific hormones. If this process is disturbed by some sort of factor, the cell could over replicate and form the foundations of a cancerous tumor[36]. Within the body of over-replicating cells, more genetic mutations can occur resulting in even more abnormal cells with broken replication functions[37]. If the tumor remains in this state of abnormal replication without breaking the barriers within the tissue then it might never affect the individual, this is known as a situ cancer[38]. It is when more mutations occur that cause the tumor to become malignant that puts a person at serious risk.

A tumor is considered malignant when it has mutated to the point where it has the ability to spread to other areas and organs within the body[39]. The highly prolific cells of the original tumor can establish themselves within another part of the body creating another deadly tumor. What actually causes death in an individual is when one of these malignant tumors causes a disruption in the function of an organ like the liver without which we cannot survive. Cancers are categorized into grades and stages based on their type, size, location(s), and a variety of other factors to give doctors and patients an idea on the severity of their condition[40].

When someone is diagnosed with a terminal illness, they may wish to hasten their death in order to die with dignity or not prolong suffering for them and their family. This process is called assisted suicide or assisted death. Right now, there are only seven states that allow assisted death, and one that allows physician-assisted death. In the states where it is legal, assisted death is available to anyone who is over 18, a legal resident of the state, mentally competent, and diagnosed with an illness that will lead to death in six months or less.[41]

There has been an improvement in cancer survival rates for children and adults in recent decades, but survival rates in young adults have not seen much of a change[42]. Treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy can have both short and long-term side effects on young adults[43]. Cancer treatment is also expensive. It was found that patients receiving cancer treatment are 2.5 times more likely than healthy people to declare bankruptcy. Treatment can cost up to $150,000, and still runs around $4,000 with insurance[44]. This can cause more stress for the patient and the family, especially in college-age people as they are already worrying about cost of schooling. College students have already been trusted to decide where they want to attend school, what they want to major in, and what they want the path of their life to look like. They should also be trusted to decide how they want their life to end in the face of a terminal illness.

In college, students are often victims of the invincibility fable: that nothing bad will happen to themselves, or they are in other words, invincible. However, college culture can make adolescents ages 18-24 more prone to cancer than they might think. The culture of college can be one filled with bad health decisions, such as unhealthy eating and drinking alcohol or smoking. According to the National Institute of Health, “Tobacco use and poor nutrition are widely acknowledged as cancer risks”[45]. Furthermore, in a recent study, it was estimated that women who drink daily had a 13% increased risk for breast cancer[46]. Additionally, breast cancer is the number one cause of cancer fatalities in college aged women[47]. With all these risk factors, it is extremely important to educate students about cancer, and the ways in which college culture can put them at risk.

Here at UNC, we have a strong cultural presence of breast cancer awareness. The ZTA sorority promotes their national philanthropy, Think Pink, which seeks to raise awareness about breast cancer. They hold multiple events with the goal to, “spread education and awareness as ZTA members distribute ribbons, breast self-examination cards, and informational packets”[48]. While breast cancer awareness is prevalent on the UNC campus, as “pink ribbons adorn the backpacks of hundreds of students”, there could definitely be more cancer education surrounding the multiple other kinds, and risk factors college students are prone to[49].

Despite all this talk about the most likely causes of death in college students, college itself is not a deadly environment.  According to the original study, Causes of Mortality Among College Students, the numbers show that out of 100,000 college aged students, the mortality rates were 10.8 accident related deaths, 6.17 cancer related deaths, and 1.94 suicide related deaths.[50] It is important to be aware of these numbers so as to no become another statistic, but with safety, college is a time of great exploration and development for any young adult ages 18-24.

UNC Breast Cancer Philanthropy. http://unczta.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/IMG_5579.jpg



[1] Turner, James C., E. Victor Leno, and Adrienne Keller. “Causes of Mortality Among American College Students: A Pilot Study.” Journal of College Student Psychotherapy 27, no. 1 (January 1, 2013): 31–42. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4535338/.

[2] Delphi Behavioral Health Group. “College Alcoholism.” Alcohol Rehab Guide, December 10, 2018. https://www.alcoholrehabguide.org/resources/college-alcohol-abuse/.

[3] J.D. OGDEN, E., and H.  MOSKOWITZ. “Effects of Alcohol and Other Drugs on Driver Performance.” Traffic Injury Prevention 5, no. 3 (August 11, 2010): 185–198. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15389580490465201?scroll=top&needAccess=true

[4] Ibid., 185-198

[5] Ibid., 185-198

[6] Ibid., 185-198

[7] Stim, Richard. “Blood Alcohol Level Chart: Are You Too Drunk to Legally Drive?” Driving Laws. NOLO, 2019. https://dui.drivinglaws.org/drink-table.php.

[8] J.D. OGDEN and MOSKOWITZ, “Causes of Mortality”, 185-198.

[9] Stanford University Student Affairs. “Alcohol Overdose/Poisoning.” Office of Alcohol Policy and Education. Stanford University, n.d. https://alcohol.stanford.edu/alcohol-drug-info/staying-safe/alcohol-overdosepoisoning.

[10] Hingson, Ralph, Timothy Heeren, Michael Winter, and Henry Wechsler. “MAGNITUDE OF ALCOHOL-RELATED MORTALITY AND MORBIDITY AMONG U.S. COLLEGE STUDENTS AGES 18-24: Changes from 1998 to 2001.” Annual Review of Public Health 26 (2005): 259–179. https://search-proquest-com.libproxy.lib.unc.edu/docview/235227942?pq-origsite=summon.

[11] Ibid., 259-179

[12] Hingson, Ralph, Wenxing Zha, and Daniel Smyth. “Magnitude and Trends in Heavy Episodic Drinking, Alcohol-Impaired Driving, and Alcohol-Related Mortality and Overdose Hospitalizations Among Emerging Adults of College Ages 18–24 in the United States, 1998–2014.” Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 78, no. 4 (2017). https://www-jsad-com.libproxy.lib.unc.edu/doi/10.15288/jsad.2017.78.540.

[13] Bravo, Adrian, Matthew  Pearson, Angelina Pilatti, Jennifer Read, Laura Mezquita, Manuel Ibáñez , and Generós Ortet. “Cross-Cultural Examination of College Drinking Culture in Spain, Argentina, and USA: Measurement Invariance Testing of the College Life Alcohol Salience Scale.” Drugs and Alcohol Dependence 180 (November 1, 2017): 349–55. https://www-sciencedirect-com.libproxy.lib.unc.edu/science/article/pii/S0376871617304477

[14] DeMond, Miller. Alcohol in Popular Culture : An Encyclopedia. Greenwood, 2010. http://vb3lk7eb4t.search.serialssolutions.com.libproxy.lib.unc.edu/?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&ctx_enc=info%3Aofi%2Fenc%3AUTF-8&rfr_id=info%3Asid%2Fsummon.serialssolutions.com&rft_val_fmt=info%3Aofi%2Ffmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Abook&rft.genre=bookitem&rft.title=Alcohol+in+Popular+Culture+%3A+An+Encyclopedia&rft.au=Miller%2C+DeMond&rft.au=Yelin%2C+Joel&rft.atitle=College+Drinking+Culture&rft.date=2010-01-01&rft.isbn=9780313380495&rft.spage=61&rft.epage=63&rft.externalDocID=CX1760300049&paramdict=en-US.

[15] “College Drinking.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Dec 2015. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/CollegeFactSheet/Collegefactsheet.pdf.

[16] “Alcohol Awareness, Prevention and Training for College Students.” Everfi. N.d. https://everfi.com/offerings/listing/alcoholedu-for-college/.

[17] National Institute of Mental Health. “Suicide in America: Frequently Asked Questions.” National Institute of Mental Health. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, n.d. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/suicide-faq/index.shtml.

[18] Caruso, Kevin. “Suicide Causes.” Suicide.org. Suicide.org, n.d. http://www.suicide.org/suicide-causes.html.

[19] Nucleus Medical Media. “Brain and Mental Health.” Youtube. Nucleus Health. May 15, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyxCjnHqBq8.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Smith, Melinda, Lawrence Robinson, and Jeanne Segal. “Antidepressant Medication What You Need to Know About Depression Medication.” Help Guide, December 2018. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/antidepressant-medication.htm/.

[22] Scelfo, Julia. “Suicide on Campus and the Pressure of Perfection.” The New York Times, July 27, 2015. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/02/education/edlife/stress-social-media-and-suicide-on-campus.html.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Uchida, Chiyoko, and Mai Uchida. “Characteristics and Risk Factors for Suicide and Deaths Among College Students:  A 23-Year Serial Prevalence Study of Data From 8.2 Million Japanese College Students.” The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 78, no. 4. Accessed April 7, 2019. https://www-psychiatrist-com.libproxy.lib.unc.edu/jcp/article/Pages/2017/v78n04/v78n0406.aspx.

[26] Castillo, Linda. “Introduction to the Special Issue on College Student Mental Health.” Journal of Clinical Psychology 69, no. 4 (March 21, 2013). https://onlinelibrary-wiley-com.libproxy.lib.unc.edu/doi/full/10.1002/jclp.21972.

[27] Scelfo, Suicide on Campus

[28] Gruttadaro, Darcy and Crudo, Dana. “College Students Speak: A Survey Report on Mental Health.” National Alliance on Mental Health. (2012).

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid.

[31] “Schizophrenia.” National Institute of Mental Health. May 2018. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/schizophrenia.shtml.

[32] Silva, R., Albuquerque, S., Muniz, A. V., Filho, P., Ribeiro, S., Pinheiro, P. R., and Albuquerque, V. “Reducing the Schizophrenia Stigma: A New Approach Based on Augmented Reality.” Computational Intelligence and Neuroscience (November 2017). Doi: 10.1155/2017/2721846.

[33] Ibid.

[34] National Cancer Institute. “Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer.” National Cancer Institute. National Institute of Health, January 31, 2018. https://www.cancer.gov/types/aya.

[35] Weinberg, Robert A. “How Cancer Arises.” Scientific America 275, no. 3 (September 1996): 62–70. https://www.jstor.org/stable/24993349

[36] Ibid.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Ibid.

[39] National Cancer Institute, “Adolescents and Young Adults.”

[40] Cancer.net. “Stages of Cancer.” Cancer.net. ASCO, March 2018. https://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/diagnosing-cancer/stages-cancer

[41] “How Death with Dignity Laws Work.” Death with Dignity. N.d. https://www.deathwithdignity.org/learn/access/.

[42] “Key Statistics for Cancers in Young Adults.” American Cancer Society. April 25, 2018. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-in-young-adults/key-statistics.html

[43] “How Are Cancers in Young Adults Treated?” American Cancer Society. April 25, 2018. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-in-young-adults/treating-cancers-in-young-adults.html

[44] Moore, Peter. “The High Cost of Cancer Treatment” The AARP Magazine

[45] Daher, M. “Cultural Beliefs and Values in Cancer Patients.” National Institute of Health. National Center for Biotechnology Information, April 2012. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22628419

[46] Poon, Linda. “Can Fear Of Cancer Keep College Kids From Binge Drinking?” Radio. Public Health. National Public Radio, March 25, 2014.

[47] Ibid.

[48] “Chapter Philanthropy.” ZetaTauAlpha. Group Interactive Networks, 2019. http://unc.zetataualpha.org/chapter-philanthropy

[49] Ibid.

[50] Turner, Leno, and Keller, “Causes of Mortality,” 31-42.


By: Nick Belk, Katharine Degolian, Katie Barham


  1. kynrob

    Overall, I thought your post was very informative and educational. However, if these three causes of death are so prevalent on college campuses alone, is there something more that we could be doing to help change that statistic? In other words, how could we better adapt college life and the decisions we as students make to reflect the population as a whole?

  2. Rosa Hannah

    It seems very odd that the third leading cause of death overall on college campuses is cancer. Are the general statistics used for this page specific to American colleges?

  3. jhd

    This post was very interesting and it surprised me that cancer was the third leading cause of death on college campuses. Do you think that the decisions that college students make, whether it be binge drinking or poor nutrition, are the main reasons why this is true? I also believe that there is a large amount of awareness on the UNC campus about mental health, yet there are still many people who struggle with depressions and anxiety and feel as though there is no one they can talk to. Is there anything else that we as a campus can do to get more people comfortable talking about their struggles?

  4. lilgeis

    This blog was interesting because it is uncommon to think about college student dying. I thought the blob did a comprehensive job on covering how these causes of death arise and I think that the part about counseling and resources was very interesting. For Psychology, I was researching how college campuses deal with the increase of need to student counseling resources and how we as a country are running out of counselors to meet with students. How do we combat the rise in need of mental health resources during a time of heightened stress and anxiety in college students?

  5. Kristen Lennon

    This blog definitely did a comprehensive job of analyzing the problems of college students that lead to death. It mentions that being thrown into a culture of uncertainty as a reason for developing mental illness and I think that this is a reason for a lot of the problems leading to these three causes of death not just mental illness. I would also like to see how these rates change between first-years and seniors in college after they have adjusted to this culture of uncertainty. I was also surprised to see cancer as the third leading cause of death and am curious to know whether the college students are diagnosed with cancer during their time at college or before.

  6. Lydia Ocbu

    This article was very informative and eye opening about the possible dangers surrounding a college campus. The article mentions that countries like Argentina and Spain have alcohol a main part of the culture. Alcohol is present in family gatherings and celebrations. The drinking age is also lower in these countries than in in the United States. To what extent do you think these factors influence accidents related to drinking in those aged between 18-24 years old? How does societal norms about alcohol influence alcohol abuse?

  7. natasja

    I thought it was interesting that both accidental deaths (mostly from alcohol) and suicide can be tied to culture. As stated in the post, there is a culture on college campuses that makes drinking alcohol the norm, and some death might be avoided if people were encouraged not to drink. The cultural stigma around mental health is also a big part of why suicide is a common cause of death for young adults. This stigma is a problem in a lot of cultures, not just the US. I think if mental health was talked about more, we could avoid a lot of suffering caused by silence in the face of mental illness.
    I think it actually makes sense that cancer is the third leading cause of death, because as we talked about in class, health-related causes of death are not common in young adults becasue they are generally healthy. If there is gonna be a common health related cause of death, it makes sense that it’s cancer since it is one of the main causes of death for poeple of all ages.

  8. Annie Booz

    I found this post extremely insightful and relevant for this class, considering it is a college class. As college students, we often do not think about death and how it may affect us at our age. This post is important because it helps bring awareness to how most college students die if they do die at this time. I liked how this post chose to incorporate specific actions that are taken at UNC to help prevent these types of death or bring attention to them. However, I think this post would have been even more effective if there were some stories tied into it about students at UNC or other colleges who have lost their lives either to alcohol, suicide, or cancer. Overall, this post was extremely well-written and necessary. I think this post should be shared with the student body so more students are aware of these statistics.

  9. jadej

    The fact that alcohol is the number one cause of these fatal accidents shocks me, because I thought at this age we understood the implications of alcohol and that abusing the ability to consume it has led us to this point. I’m glad in your post your you touched on mental health. Knowing that the second related cause of death is suicide should put in perspective that mental health is still something we as a society struggle to come to terms with.

  10. Madeleine Smith

    I like what was said in the beginning of how alcohol can kill actively and passively and I 100% agree that the drinking culture in the US is hyper focused on binge drinking and getting drunk since it is perceived as part of the college experience. I like the comparison with Argentina and Spain when drinking is part of the college experience there but is done differently because alcohol is viewed differently. I truly think this is due to the law that requires you to be 21 before you can drink. This means people don’t learn how to drink responsibly at home and the first real experiences are from parties and college where binge drinking is encouraged. Because it also is this forbidden thing that everyone is told not to do, it makes it even more appealing to be rebellious and break the law and because of this people die and it’s horrible. I also really liked this post in general because I’m in college so I can easily relate to it. I know firsthand how pressure, expectations, and instability weigh on a person’s mental health and I can definitely see how if someone already has a brain that is low on the neurotransmitters that these added stressors will lead to mental illness and suicide. College can be so overwhelming with grades, loans, and this pressure to figure your future out that the easiest solution can seem like ending it all or also dropping out and I think most college kids would agree that thoughts like this have crossed their mind. I really think something needs to change with the whole system because it is a trap and it can be really hard to save yourself from getting stuck.

  11. bria36

    In the beginning of the article when the leading three causes of death among college students were introduced, I was surprised that cancer was in the top three over drug related issues. Something that I was not surprised about was that alcohol related accidents are the leading cause of death in college students. I think that one of the biggest reasons this is happens because of the alcohol culture in colleges. Between binge drinking, car accidents, violence, and just being impaired, alcohol is the root of a lot of problems on college campuses and also in general. I was very interested to read about how alcohol is in different cultures. I did not realize that in Europe many students live at home which can tame alcohol-related accidents, but also in a lot of the Hispanic culture it is used widely as a way to celebrate. Do you think that the taboo of alcohol in the US culture is a reason why many college students drink underage? My opinion goes along with the statement about how if alcohol is going to be part of the college culture, then the best way to make sure people are drinking safely is through alcohol education. Great post!

  12. kaylaka

    This post hit very close to home, as it exposed the threats that are most likely to claim lives of individuals at or around my age. It was interesting to learn about how alcohol has the potential to either actively or passively contribute to one’s death because the two types of actions appear as interchangeable when they are taught about in school. I found this post particularly interesting because it exposes to me what I lack in understanding regarding how dangerous the culture of college truly is, specifically the practice of binge drinking. The cultural comparisons between America, Argentina, and Spain was impactful in that it exposed the reasons for which the college drinking culture in America is so dangerous, and how its deep roots in our society makes it a problem to which no simple solution exists. I found the opinion that alcohol modules bring more truth to the expectation that drinking is acceptable and expected in college to be a very interesting, and justified, stance. This post was very informative and challenged what I thought I already knew on the subject, and was very well organized in its communicating information regarding alcohol use among college students.

  13. annmari3

    I really enjoyed reading this post! Which might be strange to say, given its subject matter, but it was super interesting and well-researched. I do have a question, though. The post says that “There has been an improvement in cancer survival rates for children and adults in recent decades, but survival rates in young adults have not seen much of a change”. Why is that? Why are both children and adults better equipped to combat cancer? One might reasonably assume that young adults such as ourselves would have the best chance since we are in our ‘prime’ as some say. I also agree with the points raised about how mental health awareness needs to be more prevalent on campuses, and how colleges should stop treating binge drinking as normal and/or expected. I think I will be using some of the sources in your bibliography to do more research into the subject matter myself!

  14. alexaaa

    This was a very interesting article to read about and like many of the other commenters, I was surprised that cancer was the third leading cause of death in college age kids. As a college student, I feel like I often feel “outside the scope” of cancer and associate it with older people. However, on the other hand, I am not all that surprised as cancer rates in America are rising overall due to over processed foods, pollution, etc. Still, it was a very informative read and made me reflect on some aspects of my college experience such as drinking, diet, and mental health.

  15. lkfarr

    This post was very interesting in that it talks about the most common causes of death among college students are related to alcohol consumption and that cancer was the third leading cause of death among college students. It was eye opening to see how much of an impact alcohol consumption has on a person both psychologically and physiologically. I really liked this post because it is easily relatable because it talks about how alcohol affects people that are my age that are abusing alcohol to a high extent. It talks about Argentina and Spain and how alcohol is an important part of their culture with the drinking age lower than that in the United States. Many college students choose to drink because of the rush they get from doing something that is forbidden and illegal to do. Do you believe that if the United States would lower the drinking age from 21, college students would become less interested in drinking alcohol, due to no longer getting the rush from breaking the law, and overall decreasing the statistics for deaths caused by alcohol?

  16. Hannah Fesler

    As argued in this post, drinking does seem to be a given when attending college, meaning all students are just expected to participate. The question of why this is is intriguing, and I think it could be because it is what has become the norm and it is what college age students to consider being “fun” and “partying.” Mental health causing death in students seems very accurate, as the pressures and hardships faced in college are extremely brutal, for some more than others. Cancer being the third most common cause of death in college students honestly surprised me, because why would so many college age students have cancer? And if this many college students have cancer, why is it not more widely discussed? Just like for drinking, sexual assault, and drug issues, there should be resources related to handle situations such as finding out you have an illness such as cancer on college campuses, in my opinion. But overall, this post was very informative in relation to the leading causes of death for college students. 

  17. alexkopp

    This research post was very engaging and thought provoking. I feel after reading it I have more questions then answers. I really wish there had been an expansion on the suicide section. In particular, what are the ways in which students are killing themselves and what are the signs someones mental disorder has progressed to the point where they are at serious risk to commit suicide? I feel these questions are essential for every college student to have an answer to. It is our responsibility to watch out for our peers and having a knowledge of the signs associated with serious mental health problems is important for our ability to intervene.

  18. Rebecca Burton

    Your pod did a great job on your research post! I was not surprised at the top two leading causes of death being accidents and suicide. I have heard many times that accidents including alcohol and cars are the most common cause of death in this age cohort. On top of this, because I am a psychology major, I know the prevalence rates of mental health issues in college students and the suicide rates in college students. Sadly, they are both very high. However, the third leading cause of death being cancer was extremely surprising to me. I never knew that cancer was so common in college students. People typically view cancer as typically being diagnosed in children or older adults. Even though this was surprising to me, your pod’s research did a great job of explaining the reasoning behind this third cause of death very thoroughly and efficiently!

  19. Katie

    This post really opens a college students’ eyes into the dangers of what can happen on a college campus if one is not careful. I know that breast cancer was mentioned, however, I was curious to learn more about other cancers that commonly occur among this age range. After doing research, some of the most prevalent cancers are lymphomas, melanoma, sarcomas, etc. College is full of unhealthy eating, alcohol use, tobacco use, and extensive time in the sun (if attending a university with a warmer climate), so it makes sense that if someone is not taking care of themself, a cancer has a greater risk of developing. Additionally, in regards to the accidents that occur on college campuses, I learned in my psychology class that someone who is driving while sleep deprived is comparable to someone of a BAC level of .08. The fact that my professor was comparing sleep deprivation to intoxication proves that both instances are equally dangerous, and a college student needs to be very careful getting in a car. A college student who is extensively studying all night at the library can very easily jump into a car, and drive home, not realizing how sleep deprived he/she is, and perhaps be involved in an accident.

  20. Brianna Ramgeet

    I think the fact that the 3rd leading cause of death on a college campus is cancer is very off putting, but it has to be remembered that cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the country. This being said, I would like to focus on the mental health issues you brought up. Specific to UNC, mental health is a big thing and is emphasized more now, than it was before. Even though that is great, CAPS is advertised as the place to go for any mental health issue you may have, but it isn’t widely known that CAPS isn’t licensed to help with all mental health issues. My question is, have there been other places advertised to college students in general that will actually cover all of the topics of mental health?

  21. Stephen Parson

    It’s interesting to note that alcohol kills from two separate approaches; the alcohol itself is a poison that can kill you, but even the act of becoming impaired under its influence can bring you injury or death. It also leaves one wondering why, in three separate countries, the drug is seen as essential to the college experience. I wonder if there is possibly a concrete connection between the consumption of alcohol and the mental health problems that lead to suicide on college campuses?

  22. Lauren Meyer

    I thought this article was very compelling because it included information backed by facts about college students. The authors did a fantastic job at catching college student’s attention by bringing up the realistic causes of death among college students. This most eye-catching information I noticed while reading this post, was the information about the third leading cause of death; cancer. Because I previously read the Cause of Death in the United States: Tobacco Consumption article, I was given background knowledge of the negative effects of tobacco use. I think it is crazy that there is so much information out there about the risks of tobacco use, yet so many college students partake in these tobacco activites almost every day.

  23. lisetteb

    This topic was extremely informative of the top three leading causes of death in college students, with cancer being the one I was most surprised by. I never thought that cancer would be in the top three, but that also goes to show that college-aged students do really believe the invincibility fable and that mental health issues and cancer could affect anyone. I completely agree with the part about college culture being a factor in suicides, since there is such a presence for perfection and instability of social support. College students are just expected to adapt quickly to a completely different environment without any consequences. Also, the fact that many college students are constantly stressed about school work and pull all-nighters to get work done shows how broken the college system is. We are told to put our school work in front of our mental health (which then affects our physical health) without questioning it. What do you think are some helpful ways students can destress and pay attention to our mental health in times of distress?

  24. Juliet Alegria

    My topic of research was martyrdom and human sacrifice so I also looked into suicide as you discuss in part of your post. I found the same statistic that about 90% of people who commit suicide had a diagnosable mental illness. I was researching suicide bombers, so the relationship between mental illness and suicide may not be related in the same way, but there are still external and internal factors that can influence an individual to commit such an act in either situation. I think it would be interesting to look into how the college environment cultivates or influences suicidal acts and what further steps can colleges take to prevent suicides. What can be done to help reverse mental illness stigmas on campus? How can schools alleviate some of the stress students experience? Great post!

  25. eteems

    I think this is a very insightful article because of how relevant it is to our lives as college students. If I had to guess the top three most common causes of death, I do not think I would have guessed these three correctly, especially not cancer. Pointing out that alcohol is a drug is interesting because I do not think most college students realize this or would consider it one themselves. Noting that direct alcohol consumption does not always cause death, but actions because of drinking can cause death as well is very important to remember. I think the study examining three different countries is vital to its credibility because it shows the United States is not a cultural outlier. Programs in place to educate college students on the effects of alcohol impairment have been implemented in colleges across the country, including UNC, I personally remember taking these modules. Although suicide and cancer have been less prevalent in my personal experience, this article creates awareness for the large number of people this affects. One question I have about cancer is what is a positive way to create awareness for college-aged students who are diagnosed? Overall, I think this blog post is well put together and informative!

  26. tyndalla

    I really enjoyed reading this post and I think that this topic is imperative to talk about and bring more awareness towards. In college, students become immersed into a culture where peer pressure and drinking are extremely prevalent. With alcohol being one of the top causes of death, individuals need to be more conscious and self-aware of their environment and the state of those they are with to help prevent accidents from occurring. I can also see how suicide is a top cause of death due to the overwhelming amount of stress put on individuals and the expectations people have in what they should accomplish and have figured out in four short years. I found your post to be extremely informative and well done! Great job!

  27. yingke

    This article focuses mainly on American college students. It compares and contrasts with other countries in the drinking perspective in order to show its significant impact on American college students. Will Asian Americans, European Americans behave differently or similarly facing the multiple aspects of college? Is causes of death the same to different countries? I really like the reference and the data of our university. The recommendation to the different causes is also helpful and detailed. The explanation to the cause is from the biological view, which is subjective and accurate. Good job

  28. Kenzie Chasteen

    Dear Nick, Katharine, Katie,
    What a relevant topic to choose! When I think of college age students, I also do not associate this age group with death and if I do I think it would be surrounded by a form tragedy. As students in college I think we can clearly see the impacts of the academic environment on student physical and mental health. UNC students are academically motivated and work hard in their studies, but due to the stress and pressure this produces they also look for outlets in activities such as binge drinking. I think this temporary escape can lead to further impacts like depression. This could originate from a false since of social belonging for those who participate in binge drinking, or a sense of isolation for those who do not participate.
    I thought it was very interesting the cancer was a top cause of death in students, because I also associated cancer with later life stages. I think this shows the accumulative effects of our lifestyle and our environment becoming stronger and stronger as they impact younger phases in life.

  29. Andrew Phelan

    One thing that really drew me to reading this post was how relatable and applicable it is to me, as well as those around me. College students are not at an age where death should really be a thought, as your group stated in the openng paragraph, but the realtiy is that it does happen. Primarily I’d like to address your first two leading causes of death in college students; alcohol related deaths and suicide. In my experience, there is an argument to be made that these two issues are related to one another. Mental health has become an extreme focus in modern life, but why? I would argue that the pressures put forth by society to get a college education and get a sustainable job out of college are creating a hostile and competitive environment for students. These issues did not exist in such high quantitues years ago because the nature of society was not as competitive. Alcoholism is certainly enabled by media, such as movies and social media apps where college students are seen drinking and overindulging, but is it possible that some students drink to escpae the stresses of college, and in extreme examples commit sucice over these stressors? I frequently hear students who have had a stressful week say “I’m going to get hammered once I finish this test” or “I’m going straight to the bars once I finish this assignment”. Could it be that education is not addressing the root of the problem, when in fact, the problem is the emphasis placed on getting a 4.0 GPA and making 6 figures straight out of school?

  30. kailans

    I believe that this article is extremely relevant to not on the this class, but also to every student in it. whether or not a student drinks heavily, has anxiety and depression, or both, the awareness of this topic should be shared to all students before entering the US undergraduate system.

    I think that a lot of the issue arises from little exposure and little education, as mentioned in the article above. Because the US college culture is so radically different from those in Argentina and Spain, the isolation factor and the peer pressure of others is enough to lead a mentally sound student down a road of stress and anxiety. I think that researching and exposing the wrong doings of high school education of higher education norms in the US is essential in order to prevent mental disorders, additional stress, and unnecessary deaths. Why isn’t our nation doing something about a problem that is so uniform across the country? How can our culture change and what can we do, as college students in the midst of the chaos, to prevent it?

  31. Hannah Lee

    I was drawn to your topic initially as it is incredibly relevant to our current stage of life. As we’ve studied death, I found the intersection of death with our peer group to be particularly interesting. I wasn’t surprised at the most common forms of death but would be interested to see their intersectionality. I’ve seen first-hand the results of the combination of poor mental health and alcohol in my peers and I would be interested to see the research surrounding their relationship. Could these two factors be compounding one another to increase their risk?

  32. Parian Covington

    I was shocked to find that cancer is one of the leading causes of death in college students. Do you think the amount of stress college students have to endure could play a role in getting cancer? Overall, I found this article to be very interesting, but sad to read as a current college student. I hope that more people practice safe driving in the future. I also think that schools should provide more resources that help with the mental health of students because stress, depression, anxiety, and other factors have a significant role in suicide, and I think all of these variables can be minimized to an extent to where people do not feel it is necessary to take their life.

  33. ashrag

    This post was very informative and well put together. While these are all shocking causes of death in college-age students, considering this is the age where we least think about dying in most cases, I wonder how connected these three causes are. Such as using alcohol to cope with mental illness or how excess alcohol consumption is linked with liver issues such as liver cancer noted as one of the more common diagnoses.

  34. rbagley

    I thought this post was very interesting, especially because we are all currently college students. The leading causes of death of accidents and suicide were not as surprising to me as cancer was. When you think college students, you usually think young and healthy individuals. Cancer is often associated to taking root in older adults. I loved the way you included the facts regarding alcohol in your discussion of the accident related deaths of college students. Instead of just stating facts regarding the deaths, you took it one step farther to educate a group of students about the dangers associated with drinking. You also mentioned that we feel “invincible” as college students, which I strongly agree with. I think more emphasis should be placed on colleges regarding student suicides, seeing as it is the second leading cause of deaths for college students. In my pods post on how grieving differs amongst the genders, some of the research suggested that men are more likely to act on depressive/suicidal behavior and I was wondering if this was true for the research on college students?

  35. Alejandra Fernandez-Borunda

    I thought this post was very interesting and also a little surprising. I found a lot of similar results and information on mental health stigma in the US for my post on mental health in the military. Though I agree that it is necessary to bring more awareness on mental health through programs such as orientation, I do not believe that would be enough to push people past the stigma to seek help. In my post I found that most cultures have the stigma that someone that has mental health problems is weak because they are not able to overcome them. This stigma makes people believe that they do not need to seek help because it does not occur to them that they might have a mental health problem since most people view themselves as strong and independent. If this is the case then maybe college might be too late to address the issue since it is so ingrained into a core part of the American culture, which is independence. I suggests that maybe to reduce bias we would have to start reducing bias sooner, such as when we are in middle school and still have not formed very concrete schemas. Is this something you believe might help?

  36. ekupec

    I like this post because, as college students, this post is very relatable to our experience as students during our four years. It is sad to think (but makes sense) that accidents kill the most college students, especially accidents involving alcohol. As alcohol is such a huge part of the college culture, and everyone assumes everyone else drinks, it is understandable that people get into dangerous situations involving the depressant when they don’t practice safe drinking habits. While countries have very different cultures, it is interesting to see through the study of America, Argentina, and Spain that drinking is central to the college experience in all three places, showing just how related college and drinking is perceived to be. It is sad that suicide is the second most likely cause of death among college age student. As someone who has lost someone to suicide in college, I understand the harsh realities associated with death in college. Especially when one takes into account the pressure and instability of college, it is easy to see why so many people struggle with mental health issues on a college campus. Hopefully other groups on campus can use the information in your post to help spread awareness about the importance of mental health.

  37. wumeijin

    This post was a very well-researched and informative article to read, so good job on that! I enjoyed learning about the suicide portion, as mental illness is another taboo in addition to death and dying that we as a society tend to shy away from. I noticed a few of the solutions and college initiatives mentioned were based on UNC as a model, and although this is a good starting point, it may not necessarily be true for other colleges. The cultural angle was great for insight into general American college culture, and was able to connect the scientific and ethic angles fluidly. I want to suggest maybe including Greek life/hazing culture, as this is another part unique to American college culture that could contribute to normalizing alcohol and risky behavior. Overall, this is a solid article we fellow college students can relate to and bring awareness to topics not talked about because of our invincible complex.

  38. graciak

    Wow, what an amazing article post. Although I wasn’t entirely surprised alcohol was a leading cause of death in college students, I was a bit surprised that vehicle accidents wasn’t the main cause. It was really interesting to learn more about the direct effect alcohol has on one’s brain. I understood alcohol is a depressant, but was never aware that it can actually kill through impairing brain functions causing you to forget how to breathe etc. I always had a vague understanding of alcohol poisoning and this article really elaborated on that topic. Do you believe the main cause to this misuse in alcohol is because of the drinking age? If it were lowered would the statistics be the same? As for suicide, I was really intrigued by how in detail you guys explained the chemical messengers in the brain. The instability and overload in work while in college can be extremely overwhelming. Thank you for taking time in stressing and bringing awareness to how the college atmosphere can lead other to commit suicide. Lastly, I was completely shocked that cancer was the third most likely cause of death for college students. I was surprised to find out that many college students undergo assisted suicides or assisted deaths to avoid prolonged suffering to them or their family member. Has the cancer rates in college students decreased at all over time?

  39. nicoleel

    I found this post incredibly interesting, I had no idea that the third leading cause of death in college students is cancer. I realized that college students, including myself believe that we are immune to death, we feel invincible because we are young, and it makes sense that we would engage in high risk behavior. As a member of a sorority, philanthropy is a major aspect of Greek Life and I am very familiar with Zeta Tau Alpha’s philanthropy and I am wondering if there is anything Greek Life could do to spread more awareness on the other issues you mentioned like alcohol and mental health. I am also wondering if something like AlcoholEDU for mental health awareness would allow students to know of all their options if they’re struggling.

  40. elelena

    This post was very intriguing given that it discussed the leading causes of death in college students. Often, it is easy to forget that despite being young there are many formidable risks that all college students should be aware of including cancer. Initially, I was surprised that cancer was one of the top three causes of death; however, after addressing how typical college behaviors such as smoking and drinking increase the risk of cancer, it becomes more reasonable that cancer is one of the leading causes of death for college students. Additionally, I wanted to inquire about how physician assisted suicide affected college students because it was addressed within the post, yet there was not an explicit explanation given for how this could be beneficial to specifically college students. I would potentially add in this perspective as an option to college students who are diagnosed with cancer. I would also recommend adding a perspective regarding accidents that occur in college and correlate it to specific tragedies that have occurred at UNC. I found the point about suicide being linked to the standard of perfection very interesting because it is often disregarded the high standards to which college students today are held. These standards often prevent even the slightest failures. Overall, I found this post very informative and beneficial as it draws awareness to issues that are often over looked in college culture.

  41. cdrawdy

    While the topic of death upon college students may seem taboo to talk about, it is important to increase awareness. I was surprised to see cancer in the list of the top killers of college students, especially since there has been a large increase in ending tobacco consumption in the US. I do believe that American culture has something to do with it. Our high obesity rate in the US and the lack of a clean, raw diet can attribute to some issues with internal functioning, while excessive tobacco and alcohol consumption can exacerbate those issues. Something I noticed in this blog post is that people who suffer from a mental condition fear asking for help due to the stigma around it, but why hasn’t that stopped people from binge drinking on college campuses? Why is drinking more socially acceptable than taking care of one’s mental health? Personally, I think that binge drinking is seen as THE college experience because it is less acceptable to drink casually at young ages in America, whereas in Argentinian and Spanish culture it is done ‘tamely’ at family gatherings. Overall, great post with informative facts.

  42. mevonne

    Very interesting and intriguing bringing up the point of alcohol actively and passively killing, I have never heard it attributed in that way. I agree that alcohol has been attributed and expected in college culture, but I also do wonder where the root of this comes from and how our society has created this culture. Is it because alcohol is illegal for underage and has been illegal in the past to all people? Does this leads upper teenagers/ young adults to want it more because it is looked down upon outside the college bubble and that they want to live on the edge? Can alcohol poisoning be considered suicide in some cases, as suicide stands as the second leading cause of death to college students? A student can be attempting suicide through consumption of alcohol so how do you think this will cloud the cause of death? I think college creates a competition attitude that adds to the prevalence of mental illness. While there is so many people who advocate for mental health, there is so many people still stuck in the shadows of it. I agree that we have to work towards reversing the stigma of talking about mental illness, and force ourselves and others to have the conversation even though it is uncomfortable. I think it’s safe to say that the college bubble enhances the prevalence of all of these leading causes of death with the “invincible” idea, because after we experience forms of these leading causes happens to us or close friends it creates stressors adding to our spiraling cycle.

  43. memcd

    I didn’t find it surprising that the three leading causes of death for college aged individuals are accidents, suicide, and cancer. I find it really interesting how alcohol can kill actively, as the toxin itself, and passively, due to the actions or effects caused by alcohol impairment. Both of these are noted in this post quite well, especially the cultural differences surrounding the college experience and alcohol use, that Europe sees alcohol as a part of their culture while American college students tend to abuse their use of alcohol in binges. My question and an alternative angle that may have tied together these three common causes of death could be a discussion of how alcohol contributes to both suicidal thoughts and accidental deaths.

  44. sydneyrb

    I thought this was a very interesting article and I did not know that accidents, suicide, and cancer. I figured that accidents related to alcohol would be one of the leading causes of death for college students, but cancer did not even cross my mind. I wonder if the people that die of cancer are diagnosed before or after they enter college. It is also interesting that in the three countries that were studied, alcohol was considered central to the college experience. If our society changed and we no longer believe that alcohol was central to the college experience, I wonder if the rate of death caused by accident would decrease.

  45. Owais Kamdar

    This was very relatable and very interesting to read due to the fact that we are on in college right now. To read something that we can personally connect to makes it so significant. Although, the alcohol-related accidents are understandable because during college is when people become of age, but why do students like us drink to the point where we aren’t in our right minds? Due to the recent rise in depression and anxiety, along with the large amounts of the stress caused in college, suicide becomes an option to some. However, more action should be taken to help reduce depression and stress levels. How could college campus put more of an emphasis on mental health? Lastly, the cancer could be caused by increased tobacco use as mentioned in the “Cause of Death in the United States: Tobacco Consumption.” Increased use of tobacco could lead to more mouth and gum cancers. Overall, the article was very informative and important for us to realize and try to take actions toward.

  46. Keara Mclean

    I was drawn to this post for obvious reasons- as a college student, it is interesting to understand the risks faced by both myself and my peers. That said, I was unsettled by your discussion on alcohol. Though most of the information presented included things I was at least somewhat aware of, I think seeing it written out in this way makes it abundantly clear not only how dangerous certain behaviors in college can be, but how the normalization of such behaviors can exacerbate this danger. Further, I liked how you included considerations for programs like AlcoholEDU, but it raises some questions- just how effective are these programs? Are there statistics to back up their implementation? And if not, what other options are available? Finally, while you touched on it briefly in your section about cancer, I think it might be interesting to do more of a deep-dive into the interconnectedness between these three leading causes of death. How might mental illness contribute to students engaging in unhealthy or unsafe behaviors like, for example, binge drinking? Is there a strong correlation between these behaviors and instances of cancer in college students? And if yes, what kinds of structures are in place on college campuses specifically to try to combat these things, and how effective are they?

  47. katant

    This post really opened my eyes to the possibilities of death in college. As a college student, I don’t really tend to think about dying unless I am actually in death and dying. I usually spend a lot of my time on studying and working instead. This post really provided a ton of insight on what could impact my life and others around me. I figured that accidents related to alcohol and suicide would be up there on the list, but who would’ve thought that cancer would be number three? I figured something like high blood pressure or heat stroke would have outranked cancer, because its not really something you think about. Thank you for your diligent research, and informing me of something I did not know.

  48. breah22

    I thought that it would be interesting to see how the people that are our age are dying and as I began to read, the words “accidents” and “alcohol” really stuck out to me. As stated in this paper, alcohol related incidents are the largest killers. I had never thought of the difference between alcohol actively and passively killing until I read this article. As I kept reading, I thought the societal views toward alcohol could not have been more correct. Then, I thought about the girl at USC that got in the wrong car because of her intoxication level and it ended her life. I also thought about one of my friends that passed away due to an accident that occurred while he was under the influence. That leaves my question being: if an issue is seen with alcohol consumption, then why does society place an opposite view on it?

  49. Emma Uhrlass

    I found this post very interesting because, as a college student, I think it is important that these prominent causes of death are discussed. While reading this post, I was stuck on the portion explaining the AlcoholEdu modules and what colleges try to do to educate students on alcohol’s true “silent killer” nature. At UNC, these modules are required and aim to minimize the amount of drinking on campus. However, I find that more and more students are engaging in drinking–especially, underage drinking–despite being educated on the potential consequences. It raises the questions: “How effective are these modules on actually preventing alcohol-related incidents?” and “How can these modules be more effective?”

  50. kacierno

    As stated in this post, the deaths of college students is not something we normally thing about. When I think of college, I think of a place that a person goes to continue achieving their life goals, not a place where a person goes to die. I was not surprised that the leading cause of death among college students was alcohol. Unfortunately, binge drinking that leads to alcohol poisoning and/or poor decision making is more common than it should be among college students. I was surprised, however, that the third leading cause of death among college students was cancer. I never thought of cancer as a common occurrence, let alone a somewhat common occurrence among college students. I was upset but not surprised that the second leading cause of death among college students was suicide. Many people who are struggling with mental health problems are afraid to seek help and may feel that their feelings are invalid. Should resources available for college students to get help with mental health issues be advertised differently? Should there be more mental health resources available to students? Maybe if there was a free online option offered where a student could talk or online chat with a mental professional, it would make college students more likely to get help. Mental health resources on college campuses definitely need to be advertised more, but it is imperative that these resources are not painted in a bad light.

  51. peytonel

    This post initially grabbed my attention for obvious reasons, as it directly relates to me and the majority of my peers. I was not surprised that alcohol related injuries was the leading cause of death among college students. Most of us have experienced the drinking culture on campus firsthand. In the post, it is suggested that the AlcoholEdu and frequent discussion of how to drink more safely is not effective in reducing these injuries, as people do not take them seriously. Can you expand on your recommendation of how this could be improved? I don’t think simply focusing on the negative outcomes will prevent people from taking part in these activities, because scare tactics are not always very effective. I also think it would be interesting to see how college drinking culture in the US has changed over time. Have these heavy, binge-drinking practices always been the norm for college students? Additionally, how have fraternities and sororities contributed to college drinking culture?

  52. aracelia

    I enjoyed this post because of how it draws accountability for issues that many people sometimes choose to ignore, namely the death of college students due to alcohol. As stated in the post, in America we have been taught that alcohol is something you must try in order to live the full college “experience”. I believe that this mentality is the main reason which drives many to reckless decisions and why college students sadly meet their untimely demise. This post helps to put things into perspective for me and other college students, as it opens our eyes to the actual consequences of things such as alcohol. It also allows me to better understand how this mass mentality of “alcohol is needed for fun” is a way in which college students have been “brainwashed” to believe that they do need alcohol to pass through the four years that they are here.

  53. Robert Lewis

    This post immediately caught my eye because of how relevant the topic was to literally anyone who is my age currently. The 3 causes of death were not shocking to me personally, as both Drinking and Cancer related deaths would make sense to occur with the foolish decisions that are often made at this age. Suicide was a clear answer as well as many people will enter college and leave the environment that they may have become so accustomed to prior. The fact suicide was in second still shows us that there is more to be done on the front of resolving that problem in a manner beyond what is currently being done. I commend all 3 of you for tackling this subject that was likely to hit home in some sort of way whether it simply be through media or someone you may have personally known. I wish you would have answered the question of “What’s next?” a bit more, as there must be some new ways we can think to go about combatting these 3 causes of death across college campuses.

  54. vis

    Great article, as many of the other comments have said, death is probably the least of all the worries a college student typically has. The most surprising statistic was that cancer was the third leading cause of death among college students. I wonder how these statistics for the top 3 causes of death or college students vary in different countries. Hopefully this article has convinced some of us that we are not invincible and must take as much action as we can to reduce the possibility of harm.

  55. jmj96

    I almost did not want to read this post, as I knew it would be a little eerie as a current student. To know that the three leading causes of death for students are accidents, suicide, and cancer is unfortunate. The only one that does not surprise me is the accident-related deaths, especially when considering alcohol being involved. Being as young as students are, the idea that an accident would be the leading cause of death makes sense. When it comes to suicide, it is interesting to know that Western culture has a big tie-in to suicide and mental disorders, whereas other cultures may not agree. I was surprised reading that cancer was the third leading cause of death because it is a cause I rarely ever hear about, and I am not sure if I have heard of a case at all in my time here. I enjoyed how this post discussed real-life events happening in Chapel Hill, allowing me to relate to the reading.

  56. Mary Ellen Frank

    This post was interesting because I see so much alcoholism around me being a college student. I grew up around an alcoholic father, so I never wanted to drink, but when I came to college, the peer influence was so strong that I began drinking a little bit on the weekends. Drinking is dangerous at Chapel Hill because in the frat houses, girls get drugged and if they do not have friends to carry them, the frat boys take advantage of them. The American college culture accepts alcoholism as okay, but it goes to show that the morals of most young Americans are low because they will binge drink until it becomes acceptable to act upon impulse and desire.

  57. Raymond Chen

    Although I have heard accidents are the most common cause of death among college students, I did not know the largest cause of accidents were alcohol-related. Alcohol is a tricky subject in America, for a variety of reasons. As you wrote in your post, American culture has glorified binge drinking in its media, through movies, TV shows, and Instagram, to name a few. Despite the heavy prevalence of underage drinking, it is hard to limit alcohol on college campuses simply because those who are older than 21 are perfectly able to purchase it. Therefore, access to alcohol can become easier because it is legal for many students to buy it.

    It is important to note that alcohol abuse can result in a myriad of health issues, including consequences on mental health. Poor mental health is associated in increased risk of suicide, according to your post. I believe limiting alcoholism and alcohol abuse for college students is crucial step to decrease the amount of deaths among college students.

  58. Carmen Chamblee

    This is an interesting but a not too surprising find! A stereotype of college students is that they drink excessively throughout college. This stereotype is seen throughout tv shows, movies, books, basically anything pop culture. I do not believe that education systems fully explain what alcohol is (it was mentioned that it is a depressant). It is also sad to find that there is not a big emphasis on mental illnesses in college, especially since it could be a new environment for people which raises their stress levels. A finding that surprised me was that cancer is the third most likely cause of death for college students. Even though this is shocking to me, it somewhat makes sense because it is another stereotype that college students are poor. College students would most likely not be able to afford treatments for cancer. One good thing that could help reduce deaths in college is that colleges are providing free therapy sessions and drug/alcohol related sessions for students that need help. (greatergood.berkeley.edu). If colleges put more emphasis on mental health would the statistics decrease?

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