Suicide in University students in Bogotá, Colombia, 2004–2014

Saúl Alonso Franco Martha Lucia Gutiérrez Julián Sarmiento Decsy Cuspoca Javier Tatis Alejandro Castillejo Miguel Barrios Magnolia del Pilar Ballesteros-Cabrera Sara Zamora Carlos Iván Rodríguez About the authors

Abstract

We report the results of a retrospective, descriptive, qualitative study of suicide among university students in Bogotá, Colombia. The objective of this study was to document the magnitude, principal characteristics, and impact of this phenomenon in the selected population. A semi-structured survey was employed to collect information from 66 individuals linked to the universities. A total of 45 cases of suicide were documented in the study period (2004 – 2014). Of these, 69% occurred in males and 31% in females. The age range was 17 – 27 years, with 62% of the cases in the 19 – 22 year-old group. The most common mechanisms employed were suffocation and poisoning, followed by intentional falls, use of a firearm, and drug overdose. The selected location was the place of residence in 52% of cases and the university campus in 16% of cases. The distribution of students by area of knowledge showed a predominance of social and human science (44%) followed by engineering (22%). A history of difficulties in family and affective relationships was common among victims, as was a history of exposure to intolerance of differences in sexual orientation. The individuals surveyed expressed a wide range of interpretations of the significance of suicide, both positive (courage, self-affirmation, autonomy) and negative (defeat, despair, and an inability to adapt).

Key words
Suicide; Universities; Qualitative research; Colombia

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