Why do students commit suicide

Suddenly there is no courage to face life: the student talks about his suicidal thoughts

The panic attack hit Christian Greif (name changed by the editorial team) in August 2019 completely unexpected. From one day to the next, the world of the 21-year-old student turns upside down. The cheerful young man who likes to meet up with friends and enjoy his life suddenly falls into a deep hole. His thoughts revolve around suicide.

For a while, Greif tried to hide all of this. He fears stigmatization. Only when his mother starts talking to him about the often bad mood at the beginning of November does it break out of him. The family encourages him to see a doctor for help. "It was life-saving to talk about it," says the now 22-year-old in retrospect.

It was life saving to talk about.
Christian Greif

Greif's family doctor diagnoses moderate depression and prescribes medication. At first, however, it is difficult for him to accept the disease. “I thought I was nuts,” he says. After all, it is a different matter whether you limp across campus on crutches or have a headache.

The student sees the first light at the end of the tunnel when he is sitting across from Dorothea Manz in the consultation rooms of the Karlsruhe association Arbeitskreis Leben (AKL) in December. “That's when I realized that suicidal thoughts are a symptom of my depression. And that I am not to blame for the disease, ”he says.

Life in your own head becomes unbearable

The AKL accompanied almost 200 victims, relatives or survivors through life crises last year. "You have already taken the most important step," says Manz. "They came to us and understood that they needed help."

It is completely normal that this realization has to mature first, as with Christian Greif. “Many have been plagued with suicidal thoughts for a long time before they come to us. But very few want to be dead, ”she explains. "You just can't stand your situation as it is."

This is how Greif describes his most difficult months. It felt like he was living under an overwhelming cloud of hopelessness. In my own head it was unbearable. “I felt that there was something inside of me that no longer wanted to live. But it wasn't me. I wanted to live. "

The more intensely the student deals with his illness from December onwards, the more courageous he becomes. Griffin opens up to friends and has many conversations. Nobody turns away, on the contrary. “Everyone understood. Sometimes they even talked about their own problems, ”he says. “That was incredibly important to me. To this day I find it difficult to be alone. "

Contacts are essential in crisis situations

Contacts with family and friends are essential for people in crisis situations, confirms Manz. “The exchange gives strength and confidence.” This is precisely why the consultant is currently worried about some of her clients, who are even more isolated from the Corona crisis than they already were.

“Those who were really bad before, are hit hardest,” says Manz. She is convinced that anyone who has had few contacts has even fewer since mid-March. Telephone calls or chats cannot replace personal contact. "Those affected are like being thwarted," she says.

From this week onwards, the AKL is again relying on one-on-one discussions with appropriate protective measures.

Corona crisis could make itself felt with delay

The demand for help has not yet increased due to the Corona crisis - but that could change with some delay. "Where there are currently stresses such as job loss, people first have to take care of other things," speculates Cordula Sailer. "You take care of your psyche later."

One to a maximum of five calls are currently being received by the city's specially set up psychosocial hotline, according to the head of the city's advice centers. The offers from different providers do not report more calls than usual. "But we are prepared for it if that changes," says AKL consultant Manz.

I've learned to live with suicidal thoughts.
Christian Greif

Christian Greif was at the AKL for his last interview in March. Some time ago he started behavior therapy to help him through bad days. He has largely overcome the depression, but many fears are still there.

“I've learned to live with thoughts of suicide,” says Greif. "I'm sure: no one who is depressed really wants to die." The 22-year-old tries to take something positive with him from the illness. Today he dares to speak more about his thoughts and feelings. "I don't want to hide, I don't have to put on a mask anymore," he says with a smile.

Offers of help

In Karlsruhe, various organizations offer help in life crises. A comprehensive list can be found at karlsruhe.de in the “Life and Work / Social” section under the heading “Advice and help in all situations”.

The working group life can be reached by telephone on (07 21) 81 14 24. The psychosocial hotline is available Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at (07 21) 133 13 13.

Editor's note

The Badische Neuesten Nachrichten does not report about suicides. This is because reporting on suicides has been shown to lead to many copycats. Exceptions are only made if a case is particularly relevant due to certain circumstances. If you have problems yourself or are thinking about suicide, there are 104 pastoral care centers in Germany that offer anonymous advice at any time. The free numbers are 0800 - 1110111 or 0800 - 1110222. In Karlsruhe, the crisis intervention service K.i.D. (0721 - 830 36 47) and the working group Leben Karlsruhe (0721 - 811424) for help and advice.