Jenifer McKim of WGBH's New England Center for Investigative Reporting is out with a new series on campus suicide. She discussed her reporting with Rupa Shenoy. The following transcript has been edited for clarity.

Rupa Shenoy: So why this topic? Tell us about how you got into this project.

Jenifer McKim: I had heard for a long time that the number of suicides across the country, across the board, had been on the increase. And it's very troubling, but I wanted to focus on young people and on the idea that on college campuses, there's a lot that colleges can do to reduce these problems. So it seemed like a really important place to focus.

Shenoy: Suicide itself for a long time was just something we did not talk about, especially in journalism.

McKim: I've worked in the news business for 30 years. When I was on breaking news desks and you would be told that somebody died somewhere and then you found out it was a suicide, you would just drop it.

Shenoy: Can you tell us about the investigation itself? How did you go about researching this?

McKim: We obtained public data of all the people who died in the state, with the help of The Boston Globe's Todd Wallack, a reporter there. And with that data, we were able to look at all the people of a certain age who died by suicide and then match it with public records, obituaries, anything we could find to see where they went to school, because we wanted to see where students were going to school and was there any prevalence at certain places.

Shenoy: And you were doing this with a class.

McKim: Right. I teach an investigative journalism class at Boston University, and basically I had 15 students doing this really hard, emotionally draining work of looking up families, looking up kids, trying to cold call people who'd lost family members. It was a big ask of these students, and they really did it with a lot of empathy and hard work.

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Shenoy: What are your big takeaways from the investigation?

McKim: Well first of all, just this huge sense of silence and lack of transparency among public and private universities. The University of Massachusetts-Amherst, the state's flagship public university, does not track suicides. They say it's difficult to do so, they know that there are deaths and they do look into them, but they can't track every death because they might not be on campus, they might happen on vacation, and they don't get information from the state. But this has sort of left some people very troubled that a research university like that can't look at this information to learn from it, to prevent the next ones. Also, similarly, with private universities — just a real closed box of what happens.

Shenoy: The universities who told you that they did not have this information or that this information was not available — are they not collecting the information, or are they not sharing it?

McKim: It's not totally clear to me if they're doing a great job tracking it and they just don't want to give it to me. I've spoken to some people within a university who have said even they have struggled to get that information from the university to be able to apply for grants related to mental health issues. So I think a lot of the private universities, they don't have to release the information so they don't do it. They talk about the fact that a lot of the parents who've lost people might want to be more private, but there's clearly other issues also about reputation. It's not what universities want to be known for.

Shenoy: What did you learn about why suicides are on the rise? What's causing more students to take their lives?

McKim: My understanding in talking about young people of this age is that many of them were born around 9/11, where the whole world, in a lot of ways, changed. There's a lot more anxiety, the issues around social media and growing up with parents who often don't allow kids to fail. Those have all been things that people have mentioned to me about why this is a bigger problem now.

Shenoy: So parents should be thinking about this as they're raising kids, it sounds like.

McKim: Absolutely, and I'm a parent, and I've also been thinking about it. Just the importance of really listening to your children and talking to them and trying to make sure that they're not too pressured, as much as they want to succeed in life. There are so many things that are more important.

Shenoy: That's a lot of pressure on parents.

McKim: It's a lot of pressure on all of us, I guess. And that's this whole discussion about responsibilities — what do universities have versus parents and all of us in helping keep people happy and safe.

Shenoy: Where does your reporting go from here?

McKim: We focused this first project on college-age suicides, but when we were looking at this data, we were looking at the whole realm of young people. So the youngest people who've died by suicide in this state are 9 years old. Junior highs and high schools are also facing similar issues of trying to deal with this problem. So we are going to be looking more into that in the future.