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Understanding depression and suicide in college athletes: emerging concepts and future directions
  1. Ashwin L Rao1,
  2. Eugene S Hong2
  1. 1 Department of Family Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  2. 2 Department of Family, Community, and Preventive Medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ashwin L Rao, University of Washington Sports Medicine, P.O. Box 354060, 3800 Montlake Blvd NE, Seattle, WA 98195, USA; ashwin{at}

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Depression and suicide remain major public health concerns affecting broad segments of the population. The prevalence rates for depression are notably high in young adults. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, the prevalence of depression in individuals aged 18–25 years is 8.7%.1 Clinically significant depression symptoms appear to be as prevalent in collegiate athletes as in the general college student population.2 Suicide remains the third leading cause of death among individuals of collegiate age and is reported as the second leading cause of death among the general college student population.3 ,4 In college athletes, a suicide ranks fourth as a leading cause of death.5 Current estimates of depression and suicide prevalence in these populations are challenged by the lack of consistent methodology, inconsistent reporting by schools and a poor understanding of relevant screening tools to effectively evaluate athletes. Thus, under-reporting of mental health concerns in athletes is a significant concern, and depression and suicide are tangible concerns to address in athletes of all ages and levels of ability.

Some studies suggest …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.