Q: I have just dropped out of college. I have failed most my classes and may not be able to go back. I have wasted $5000 of my parents money and I have no idea what’s going to happen to me.

I’ve considered killing myself because I have nothing left to live for. I probably will not get a job or my own house and I’ll have to leech off my parents for the rest of my life. I feel like such a failure and I’m truly ashamed of myself.

I feel like killing myself but I’m too scared to go through with it. I was thinking of either hanging myself or swallowing all the Ibuprofen from the bathroom.

I don’t know what to do.

A: What you do right now is call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. There are counselors there 24/7 who can talk to you about what brought you to this desperate kind of thinking and who can help you think through your options. You don’t need to show folks how bad you feel by killing yourself. Please. A sincere apology is enough.

What I can offer you is this: Yes, you’ve failed some classes. But that doesn’t mean that you are a failure in life. It’s a little known fact that fewer than 30% of American adults have college degrees. Only 34 percent of students who start college finish a bachelor’s degree in four years. (Another 30% finish in 6 years.) The point is that people can and do have rewarding jobs with good salaries without a college education. Of those who do get a degree, a substantial number make a number of starts before they actually finish.

There are lots of reasons why people don’t make it in college. Not everyone is cut out to be a student. Some people don’t have skills, some don’t have the interest, some don’t really want to be in school, some have talents that don’t quite fit with academic deadlines. Sometimes personal issues take priority over studying. Many young people start college because it is expected of them, not because they have a goal in mind, and then find it very, very hard to spend hours in the library.

I hope you will talk to a counselor about what made the last few months so hard for you. Your worth is not dependent on success in school. Then I hope you can talk with your parents about how bad you feel and what you intend to do to move on in your life. I assure you, the people who love you would much rather deal with whatever feelings of disappointment they have than suffer the terrible anguish of losing you.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie