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A Question About Suicide Figures

I’m perplexed. Your article [“MIT Suicides Reflect National Trends,” Feb. 18] goes to great lengths to make the point that MIT’s student suicide rate is actually below the national average and falling. Things aren’t as bad as they seem. Everything is peachy.

Then, near the end of the article you drop the bomb: the undergraduate student suicide rate is 21.2/100,000. Presumably that is far above the national average (which you don’t actually state, but I’m reading it off the plot as being about 12/100,000). Your only comment on this fact is that it’s “interesting.”

Is the 21.2 figure in line with the national suicide rates for the undergraduate demographic, or is the study using the graduate population to dilute the overall suicide rate? Your article doesn’t provide adequate information to answer that question. Is the original study more informative?

I’ve been both an undergraduate and a graduate student at MIT. In my experience, graduate students have significantly better support, so it’s not surprising to me that they fare better. I hope this fact isn’t being used to mask a problem in the undergraduate experience.

Christopher R. Wren G