Boston – Most of the largest U.S. public universities do not track suicides among their students, despite making investments in prevention at a time of surging demand for mental health services.

Tabulating student suicides comes with its own set of challenges and problems. But without that data, prevention advocates say, schools have no way to measure their success and can overlook trends that could offer insight to help them save lives.

“If you don’t collect the data, you’re doing half the job,” said Gordon Smith, a former U.S. senator from Oregon who became a prevention advocate after his son, Garrett, took his life in 2003 while attending college. “We need information in mental health if we’re actually going to be able to better tailor health and healing.”

The Associated Press asked the 100 largest U.S. public universities for annual suicide statistics and found that 46 — including the University of Michigan. Michigan State and Grand Valley State currently track suicides, including 27 that have consistently done so since 2007. Of the 54 remaining schools, 43 said they don’t track suicides, nine could provide only limited data and didn’t answer questions about how consistently they tracked suicides, and two didn’t provide statistics.

Suicide rates for those that provided data ranged from 0.27 suicides per 100,000 students to 8 per 100,000, but because of the inconsistency in responses the AP did not publish figures for colleges that provided data. Also locally, Central Michigan either didn’t have stats or doesn’t consistenly collect them.

The issue has come to the fore as some schools report today’s students are arriving on campus less prepared for the rigors of college. Many schools have increased spending on mental health services to counter what the American Psychological Association and other groups have called a mental health crisis on campuses.

Tracking suicides

A look at the schools for which data were requested. Unless a branch campus is named, the line refers to a school system’s main campus:


These schools either did not have any statistics available or said their suicide statistics were not consistently collected:

Arizona State University-Tempe

California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo

California State Polytechnic University-Pomona

California State University-Fullerton

California State University-Fresno

California State University-Long Beach

California State University-Northridge

California State University-Sacramento

Central Michigan University

East Carolina University

Indiana University-Bloomington

Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis

Iowa State University

Metropolitan State University of Denver

Middle Tennessee State University

Oklahoma State University

Old Dominion University

Purdue University

Rutgers University-New Brunswick

San Diego State University

San Jose State University

Texas A&M University

Texas Tech University

University of Alabama

University of Texas-San Antonio

University of Arkansas

University of Central Florida

University of Cincinnati

University of Colorado-Boulder

University of Georgia

University of Kentucky

University of Maryland-University College

University of Massachusetts-Amherst

University of Missouri-Columbia

University of Nevada-Las Vegas

University of New Mexico

University of Oklahoma-Norman

University of Oregon

University of South Florida

University of Wisconsin-Madison

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Weber State University


Schools that consistently collected data on student suicides from 2007 through 2016:

Colorado State University-Fort Collins

Florida State University

George Mason University

Georgia State University

Grand Valley State University

Kansas State University

Michigan State University

Northern Arizona University

Ohio State University

Ohio University

Texas State University

University of Arizona

University of California-Davis

University of California-Irvine

University of California-San Diego

University of California-Santa Barbara

University of Houston

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

University of Kansas

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

University of North Carolina-Charlotte

University of Texas-Austin

University of Texas-El Paso

University of Washington-Seattle

Utah Valley University

Virginia Tech University

West Virginia University


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