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The often unspoken struggles of University life

By Sarah Harris

Everyone talks about how University is a chance for you to explore your new-found independence and let loose. However, no one really tells you that you’re likely to spend a countless number of days surviving on less than 2 hours of sleep due to the fact that you have a dozen deadlines that all fall on the same day. We’ve all jokingly said at some point that we ‘feel like killing ourselves’, but how do we know when to take the sarcastic statements our friends so flippantly declare to us seriously?

‘Death on Campus,’ a recently released BBC documentary, told the stories of three UK students all of whom sadly, over the last few years, have taken their own lives. The documentary made it clear that the academic pressure and social burdens, faced by hundreds of students all over the world, were a contributing factor in to the reason why these students struggled with life.

Andrew Korkman, an Oxford University student, unfortunately took his life in 2013, in his second year of a Politics and Philosophy Undergraduate degree. Andrew’s friends and family disclosed that he was struggling to cope with his degree, and as a result, was neglecting his physical and mental health. Although Andrew shared his struggles with close ones, this was not enough for him and ultimately, he felt the only way to fix things was to end his life.

Statistics found that in 2015 alone, a record number of 134 students killed themselves. It’s clear that a growing number of students are struggling with mental health problems and choosing not to report them, but the question is; what is the reason students are choosing to take such drastic measures?

With deadline season and exam week just around the corner, there’s no doubt that University life can bring an overwhelming amount of stress, which is undoubtedly bound to have an impact on both your physical and mental health. Despite measures such as free counselling services, support groups and workshops being put in place for students who are struggling to cope with their courses, suicide rates are continuing to rise; something isn’t being done right.

It’s unfair to put the blame solely on academic pressures. With the looming thought of having to pay off an obscenely large amount of debt pretty much the minute we set out in to the adult world and also trying to maintain a somewhat normal social life, there’s no doubt that the average University student will struggle to cope with everyday life.

So how can we change this? Unfortunately, there is no concrete way we can make the overall education process any easier; maybe there are measures we can put in place to relieve the tension. It’s clear wider action needs to be taken by Universities, and the Government, in raising awareness on student suicides. Even then, is it guaranteed to make a change?

With talks about tuition fees being lowered, and more money going towards combating mental health problems faced by students, it could be said that we’re taking a step in the right direction. However, a lot more needs to be done.

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