“My girlfriend broke up with me and moved out, and I lost my job last week.” The Yuba college student looked off and nodded. “I don’t know anymore. I was thinking of killing myself. I don’t know, maybe I will talk to one of my teachers.”These chilling words are disturbing, but in recent years statistics across America point to a rise in stress, depression and suicide among college students. At Yuba College, as the fall semester is ending and final examinations loom ahead, stress and anxiety levels reflect national statistics. Recent studies by The National Mental Health Association (NMHA) offer some sobering numbers that shed light on the mental condition of college students. Statistics that are often ignored until they produce very serious consequences. In the year 2000, suicide ranked as the third leading cause of mortality for those ages 15 to 24, increasing to the second leading cause of death among college students. Another study at the University of California, Los Angeles, revealed that over 30 percent of college freshman said they felt “overwhelmed a great deal of the time.”This statistic is not surprising to Roitissa Evans, who is a second year nursing major at Yuba College. She smiled but admitted that some days the stresses of going to school, raising a family and trying to make ends meet can be overwhelming.“I’m taking physiology, psychology, Spanish and PE,” said Evans. “I’m frustrated right now, especially with financial aid. In my science classes, books are very expensive. Just my physiology book was $110 dollars without taxes, and the lab book was $70 dollars, which I didn’t buy. They don’t give you your financial aid until September, after the classes have already started.” “What do they think we’re supposed to do?” asked Evans. “There are so many things that can overload a person, and there is nothing here on campus that can help you.” On a typical day, Evans said she gets up at 5:30 a.m. to ready herself and her child. Then she rushes to drop off her child at day care and her husband at work just in time for her to get to her eight a.m. physiology class at Yuba.“I’m sleeping okay, but sometimes I have a digestive condition that when I get stressed out, my stomach can start bubbling. It can give me nausea,” said Evans who acknowledged that lack of time to eat aggravates her stress levels and medical condition.“My friends are also feeling the stress right now, especially ones that are taking hard classes. Some have even told me that they don’t want to go to school anymore,” said the 24-year-old.One of the results of prolonged stress can be depression, which also plagues college students in high numbers. A recent health survey of college students conducted by The National Mental Health Association revealed that over 10 percent of male college students have been diagnosed with some form of depression, 13 percent for women.Seasonal changes can also increase depression during fall and winter. Known as SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder impacts about six percent of Americans yearly. The condition is brought on by the lack of light during colder months. Treatment for the disorder usually involves increased light exposure using artificial heat lamps.According to Sara Harris, the college nurse at Yuba College, seasonal depression can be further aggravated by the holidays with unrealistic expectations and family pressures.“December tends to be a high stress month,” said Harris. “The holidays, with all the demands, can lead to stress and depression. We should all try to keep things in perspective and try to remember what is really important— such as being with your family.” A 38 year-old, former Yuba College student now attending a university recalls times when depression threatened her well being and that of her family.“I’ve been plagued with stress, anxiety and depression for many years. When I look back on it, coming back to school after many years seemed to trigger it,” she said. “I had been out for so long, and I was older. During my first day at Yuba, I felt I didn’t belong there. Eventually I sought help for my stress-related anxiety and depression by using medication and talking to counselors. Also what has helped a lot are people being understanding and my family’s support, which can make all the difference.”The former Yuba College student said she is continuing therapy at the university she now attends but still worries that others are not seeking help. “Last July, a friend of mine committed suicide by jumping off the Tenth Street Bridge between Yuba City and Marysville. I wish someone or something could have helped her.” Greg Brown, a counselor at Yuba College, understands the stresses and anxieties that can plague students in a college environment.“College is a place of transition. It is a place where stress is very common,” said Brown. “18-year-olds are coming to college, and 85 percent don’t know what they want to do. You have to work hard without understanding where you’re going. And you’re on your own. The stress of day-to-day, people telling you what to do, and then there are relationships.”Brown, in his many years at Yuba College, has dealt with depressed and suicidal students requiring quick intervention.“When a suicidal student comes in to talk, the first criterion is if they have tired it before. If they have, they will try it again. Then you ask if they have a plan and means. It they say yes, that’s very serious. You try to see how close they are to it. In that case we call mental health or go to the chief of police and get a 72-hour hold,” said Brown. Over the years, students dealing with stress, depression and suicide have come into the counseling department to get help, said Brown who acknowledged the difficulty in asking for help in a society where “people are more accepting of a broken leg than mental health problems.” In May, perhaps signaling a change in public attitude, the Surgeon General of the United States issued a public decree announcing that suicide is a “serious public health problem that causes more deaths than murder” and began a campaign across America to stop suicide.The following are a few sources that offer assistance locally: Yuba College Counseling Department (634-7766), School Nurse (741-6818), Campus Police (741-6771), Mental Health for Yuba-Sutter Counties (822-7200) and 24-hour Crisis Counseling (673-8255).Watch for the following symptoms of stress and depression: decrease in physical activity; lack of appetite or over-eating; social withdrawal; increased class absence for no reason; reduction in motivation, self-esteem and self-confidence.More serious symptoms of stress and depression include significant changes in body appearance, such as in dress, hygiene and weight; withdrawal from extra-curricular activities; an inability to tend to daily functions, school, chores and work; and a general sense of hopelessness and worthlessness.