How common are alcohol-related deaths among college students?

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Dr. John C. Eustace, MD
Addiction Medicine
Alcohol-related deaths among college students are not uncommon. For parents of college-bound students ages 18 to 24, the facts regarding alcohol abuse on college campuses are alarming. Every year about 1,825 college students die from accidental (and unintentional) injuries linked to alcohol. Close to 600,000 students are injured accidentally while under the influence of alcohol.

Alcohol also leads to a higher rate of assaults, with 700,000 college students assaulted each year by a peer who has been drinking. Close to 100,000 students are victims of sexual assault each year.

In addition, about 25% of colleges report academic consequences of drinking including missing class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers and receiving lower grades overall.
Michele Borba
Psychology
Here are some statistics on college drinking deaths:
  1. Nearly 2,000 students die from alcohol-related injuries each year: Every year, an estimated 1,825 students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from injuries sustained by excessive alcohol consumption. This works out as nearly one death for every two colleges in America. Incredibly, another 599,000 are unintentionally injured due to the effects of alcohol. Out of 4,140 colleges in the U.S., both public and private, this factors out to 145 injuries for every single campus. (It should be noted, however, that the methodology for finding these statistics has been questioned.)
  2. College drinking deaths rose 26.7% from 1999 to 2005: Deaths of students from alcohol poisoning or alcohol-related accidents are certainly nothing new. College administrations have been making strides in educating students about the dangers of binge drinking for years, but unfortunately that doesn't seem to be having a positive effect on the number of student drinking deaths. On the contrary, the number is actually rising. The 1,825 deaths calculated in 2005 were an increase of almost 27% from the 1,440 deaths calculated in 1998.
  3. Freshmen account for more than one-third of college student deaths: When it comes to alcohol-related deaths, the first year of college is easily the most dangerous. A USA Today study found that although freshmen account for only about 24% of the total population of college students, they make up much more than their share of the number of deaths. For example, they accounted for 40% of undergraduate suicides, 47% of undergrad deaths on campus, and half of deaths from falls out of windows and off rooftops. Of these deaths, one out of five was found to have been drinking.
  4. Fifty-three percent of college students have experienced depression, and less than one-third seek help: With all the pressure, the separation from family and familiar surroundings, and the lack of sleep college students are faced with, depression is a very common ailment on campus. More than half of college students will experience some form of it, and the majority of them will not seek help. The answer for many is to drown their sorrows in alcohol. A study found as many as 1.5% of students tried to commit suicide because of drinking and/or drug use.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.