BLACKSBURG, VA (RNN) - Authorities are still trying to piece together what made Ross Truett Ashley, 22, fatally shoot Virginia Tech police officer Deriek W. Crouse, 39, Thursday, in an apparently unprovoked attack against a man who had no connection to Ashley.
Friends speaking with the Associated Press said Ashley, a part-time student at nearby Radford University, didn't show any indication of being anything other than a normal college student, although he may have been suffering under the weight of a recent break up and family issues.
Depression in college students is not uncommon and can be exacerbated by relationship problems like a break up.
A 2010 survey from the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors found that an average of 38 percent of students who sought counseling from university health centers were looking for help with depression, second only to anxiety at 40.0 percent. Following closely in third place were those seeking relationship counseling, at 36.3 percent.
Although many counseling services are available on-campus to students, only 11.4 percent of college populations got counseling there.
The numbers of students who seek help is a small percentage of those who felt debilitated by the condition.
A spring 2011 survey from the American College Health Association found that only 10.7 percent of students reported getting diagnosed or treated for depression while 31.1 percent "felt so depressed that it was difficult to function."
The number is a slight increase from the previous year, where 30.7 percent of students reported feeling that way in the year prior to the survey.
A vast majority of students - 81.6 percent - also reported that they "felt exhausted (not from physical activity)" - another sign that may point to depressive symptoms.
Most universities offer mental health screening days, including Virginia Tech, which holds an annual event on National Depression Screening Day celebrated as recently as October.
Radford University, where Ashley attended, does not hold screening days, but does offer counseling services free of charge at its health center.
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