Ivy Leaf - Spring 2003
L. Edward Day
L. Edward Day (assistant professor of criminal justice and sociology) and Michelle Miller-Day (assistant professor of communication arts and sciences in the College of the Liberal Arts ) co-authored the paper, "Family Communication, Maternal and Paternal Expectations, and College Students' Suicidality," which appeared recently in The Journal of Family Communication. The paper concludes that female college students with mothers expecting perfection and fathers who support the mother are more likely to contemplate suicide than peers from less pressured families. The study survey of 421 college students — 227 female, 194 male — revealed that close to the same percentage of female and male students contemplated thoughts of suicide: 19.4 percent or nearly one in five, says Miller-Day. But the proportion of students who actually attempted suicide was 4.0 percent for females, compared to 1.1 percent for males. Thus, for female students, thoughts of suicide are four times more likely to lead to an actual attempt at self-destruction, she notes. The findings indicated that college women most vulnerable to suicidal thoughts are those with mothers who not only require stellar performance in school but keep raising the bar of expectation, notes Day. Female college students are placed at particular risk when their fathers conform to the mother's wishes and acquiesce in their non-negotiable demands for perfection.