Science & Technology, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Clinical Neurology, Psychiatry, Neurosciences & Neurology, College student, Suicide attempt, Suicide plan, Grade point average, Academic performance, MENTAL-HEALTH, PSYCHIATRIC-DISORDERS, DEPRESSIVE SYMPTOMS, EDUCATIONAL-ATTAINMENT, SOCIAL-CONSEQUENCES, YOUNG ADULTHOOD, SELF-ESTEEM, STUDENTS, ADOLESCENCE, THOUGHTS, Adolescent, Belgium, Educational Status, Female, Humans, Male, Students, Suicidal Ideation, Suicide, Attempted, Universities, Young Adult, 11 Medical and Health Sciences, 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
BACKGROUND: While suicidal thoughts and behaviors (STB) among college students are common, the associations between STB and academic performance are not well understood. METHODS: As part of the World Mental Health Surveys International College Student project, web-based self-reported STB of KU Leuven (Leuven, Belgium) incoming freshmen (N=4921; response rate=65.4%) was collected, as well as academic year percentage (AYP), and the departments to which students belong. Single- and multilevel multivariate analyses were conducted, adjusted for gender, age, parental educational level, and comorbid lifetime emotional problems. RESULTS: Lifetime suicide plan and attempt upon college entrance were associated with significant decreases in AYP (3.6% and 7.9%, respectively). A significant interaction was found with average departmental AYP, with STB more strongly associated with reduced AYP in departments with lower than higher average AYP. LIMITATIONS: Limited sample size precluded further investigation of interactions between department-level and student-level variables. No information was available on freshman secondary school academic performance. CONCLUSIONS: Lifetime STB has a strong negative association with academic performance in college. Our study suggests a potential role for the college environment as target for treatment and prevention interventions.