How Do Northwest Universities Track Student Suicides? Inconsistently

University of Oregon sign


The Associated Press reported today that of the 100 largest public universities in the country, more than half don’t keep track of student suicides. That includes the University of Oregon, which the AP says either does not keep or does not consistently collect the data. 

Oregon State University and the University of Washington’s Seattle campus are the only large public institutions in the Northwest that shared annual statistics. 

UW has been tracking those numbers for about a decade, according to Associate Vice President for Student Life Ellen Taylor. 

“As is true with anything, you can’t understand and you can’t respond to something and particularly try to prevent it unless you have a pretty good idea of what is happening,” Taylor said. “And so we want to know what’s happening whenever we lose a student and so tracking the suicide data is part of that.” 

Four students at UW died by suicide in 2017. That’s about on par with the national suicide rate. 

The AP noted that Washington State University was among nine schools nationwide that “provided limited data” but did not answer questions about the consistency of data collection.

Mental health advocates in the state of Washington have been pushing for a bill that would require colleges and universities to publicize data about student suicides. 

That bill has been reintroduced this year in the Washington House.

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