Investing money and effort into more counseling, outreach and innovative resources can help keep college kids safe — and make their lives and our society better. (Dreamstime/TNS)

For many young people, college can be tough emotionally and socially as well as academically. In today’s environment, though, things are much worse — dangerously so.

By just about any measure, the mental health of today’s college students is in free fall. The situation is dire and demands immediate attention. North Carolina State University in Raleigh has the unwanted distinction of being the epicenter of this crisis, with eight student deaths this academic year — at least five of them suicides. The problems that contributed to those tragedies are also widespread on other campuses, including those here in Hampton Roads and the rest of Virginia.

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