“I don’t remember a whole lot,” said Andrew Krause. “I remember blacking out with the sleeping pills.” The year was 2006. That was the year that Krause tried to commit suicide.
“That was with a combination of pharmaceuticals, mainly sleeping pills, pain killers, and some psychological dissociatives,” he said.
Krause, a 31-year-old student at Lorain County Community College, has had more than one experience with suicide and the repercussions it can have on family and friends.
“The biggest fear isn’t death, it’s not dying when you attempt to do it.
You’re concerned about dying correctly.”
“It’s pretty bad that I have to think of how many suicides I’ve experienced,” Krause disclosed.
He told the story of how his grandfather, an alcoholic, shot his grandmother in the leg, then went on to shoot himself. “That was the first in the family,” Krause said.
The second would be a cousin. “He intentionally overdosed on heroin,” Krause said. He went on to explain how his cousin was getting treatment at a recovery house, managed to sneak heroin inside, and left a suicide note.
At the age of 13, one of Krause’s middle-school friends shot himself with a handgun. A couple of years later, another friend was found hanging in his bedroom closet by a dog leash after a particularly bad bout of bullying.
All of this occurred before that night in 2006, when Krause decided to take his own life.
“[It had] kind of an interesting effect because you move in and out of consciousness,” Krause recalled of his own experience.
Among 15-24 year-olds, the suicide rate has gradually increased since 2007: from 9.6 deaths per 100,000, to 11.1 in 2013, according to the latest available research from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Active Minds, a nonprofit organization that works to raise the awareness of mental health concerns on college campuses, estimates that roughly 1,100 undergraduates commit suicide across the country annually.
“People do lead lives of quiet desperation,” said Quentin Kuntz, the crisis counselor at Lorain County Community College. “In some polls or some statistics, I think young people between the ages of 17-25, [suicide] is often the leading cause of death,” Kuntz said. “But it’s very high.”
Millennials are tasked with challenges no other generation has experienced: lives lived almost entirely on social media. This plays into what is known as social comparison theory, which states that we determine our social and personal worth based on how we measure up to others, according to Psychology Today’s website. Basically, we see our friend’s social media posts and believe them to be more successful and popular, that their lives are more exciting than our own.
However, social media posts are often finely crafted and curated, where one almost always presents themselves in a favorable light. Social comparison is related to feelings of inadequacy, envy, and depression, according to research from Scripps College. This can have drastic consequences, as evidenced by University of Pennsylvania student Madison Holleran, whose suicide was unexpected because friends assumed she was happy based on Holleran’s social media presence, per the Scripps research.
“The thing I think is so serious about young people, and college students are good example of this: your atypical student who’s 45 and is taking classes part time has more life experience,” said Kuntz. He went on to explain that, while middle-aged adults are able to see past any perceived failures, young adults can lose focus of life beyond a bad breakup or getting a B instead of an A on a test. This is especially compounded by the perception that our peers are achieving at a higher rate than us.
The ‘Right Way’
In extreme cases, these feelings of inadequacy and depression can lead to suicidal ideation, the preoccupation with how how to commit suicide or with what life would be like if you were not around.
But for Krause, it didn’t stop at just thinking about dying, but dying in the right manner. “You think about how to do it,” Krause said. “The biggest fear isn’t death, it’s not dying when you attempt to do it,” he continued. “Your biggest fear is not doing it right. So, in the ideation, you’re not even concerned about dying. You’re concerned about dying correctly.”