In college, our Baby Boomer generation stuffed our suffering. Then we wound up in all kinds of traditional and nutty therapies. But somehow we made it to our 50s and 60s, alive. Not this college generation. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among college students.
Last week, University of Virgina's Peter D'Agostino was buried back in his hometown of Greenwich, Connecticut. A suicide. More recently, Ohio State athlete Kosta Karageorge was found in a dumpster. A suicide. Then there are the indirect suicides. Perhaps a classic case might be University of Virginia's Hannah Graham. By getting very drunk she put her life at risk. She might not have valued her life enough to steer clear of that kind of possible peril.
What are America's institutions doing wrong or not paying attention to which could keep college students alive, no matter what? My hunch is that it's a lack of old-fashioned one-on-one caring.
Most of us Baby Boomers, no matter what a mess we were, could attract the kindly professor, nurse in the infirmary, boss at our part-time job and/or high school teacher who kept in touch to keep us whole. And somehow we let them in.
Perhaps authority figures and service workers are too preoccupied with their own trouble to notice the troubles of college students. And/or with their gadgets to block out everyone but their small circle of peers, college students won't let the world in. It could be they have lost the ability to do that. Being cool has that effect.
This holiday season everyone whose work involves college students can give the gift of paying attention to at least one. If each person keeps that up, life might appear worth living to this generation who have become lost in a new way.