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Thoughts about dropping out of studies as warning sign for suicidal ideation and mental health problems in male university students

  • Flora Logoz1,†
  • Rainer Weber2,†
  • Lukas Eggenberger1
  • Andreas Walther1,*,

1Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, University of Zurich, 8050 Zurich, Switzerland

2Department of Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy, University of Cologne and Faculty of Medicine, University Hospital Cologne, 50931 Cologne, NRW, Germany

DOI: 10.22514/jomh.2023.072 Vol.19,Issue 8,August 2023 pp.60-69

Submitted: 21 February 2023 Accepted: 11 May 2023

Published: 30 August 2023

*Corresponding Author(s): Andreas Walther E-mail:

† These authors contributed equally.


Despite increasing rates for suicidal ideation in university students, male students remain reluctant in reporting such thoughts. It is thus paramount to establish more easily detectable risk factors for male students. The present study examines study dropout thoughts as potential low-treshold risk factor as well as gender-differences in established risk patterns. A total of N = 4894 German university students (24.6% men) completed a cross-sectional online survey on their mental health at the University of Cologne. In addition to sociodemographic and questions related to university studies (e.g., dropping out of studies), the Patient Health Questionnaire D (PHQ-D) was used to assess psychological syndromes (any psychological syndrome, depressive syndrome, alcohol syndrome), life stressors and suicidal ideation. Study dropout thoughts were more prevalent among male students, while being associated with increased suicidal ideation for both genders assessed. For all outcomes, significant gender-differences were observed with financial stress and a recent bad experience being risk factors for suicidal ideation in men but not women. Relationship problems, problems at work and current psychotherapy use were positively associated with suicidal ideation in women but not in men. Thus, study dropout thoughts were associated with suicidal ideation in university students and there were male-specific risk patterns for suicidal ideation and associated mental health problems. Consequently, male university students reporting study dropout thoughts or financial stress should be screened for suicidality and mental health problems. Future prevention measures in the University context should consider study dropout thoughts and male-specific risk-patterns to increase the chances to detect male student’s suicidality and to improve the effectiveness of suicide prevention programs for men.


Suicidal ideation; Students; Study dropout thoughts; Gender differences

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Flora Logoz,Rainer Weber,Lukas Eggenberger,Andreas Walther. Thoughts about dropping out of studies as warning sign for suicidal ideation and mental health problems in male university students. Journal of Men's Health. 2023. 19(8);60-69.


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