Monthly Archives April 2014

Speaking Out About Youth Suicide

alison_malmon_2_websiteAlison Malmon
Founder and executive director of Active Minds Inc.

Today we continue our five part series on youth suicide prevention. Guest perspectives come from National Network of Depression Centers and Active Minds Inc., as well as personal stories from both a peer and family member. In today’s post Alison Malmon writes about the role peers and others play in preventing youth suicide on college campuses.

Speaking Out About Youth Suicide

At first glance, the 1,100 backpacks spread out across the campus quad or in the student union look puzzling. Walking through them, you notice that most have stories attached. Some have pictures. Signs reading, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help” and “Stigma is shame, shame causes silence, silence hurts us all,” poke out among the packs. Students quietly mill around, picking up the bags and reading the stories.

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Can We Reduce Youth Suicides by Understanding and Identifying Risk factors?

Coryell,WilliamWilliam Coryell, MD
George Winokur Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine

Today we begin a five part series on youth suicide prevention. Guest perspectives come from National Network of Depression Centers and the Active Minds, Inc., as well as personal stories from both a peer and family member.

In the United States, someone dies from suicide every 13.7 minutes. As a physician, I understand that the vast majority of people who die by suicide have a mental disorder at the time of their deaths, and that both attempted and completed suicide take a great emotional toll on family members. As a research scientist, I recognize that studying the characteristics of individuals who attempt and complete suicide will help us better understand who is most at risk. This knowledge can empower clinicians, family members and peers to seek emergency care for those in need.

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Can You Thrive with a Mood Disorder?

dr_greg_simonGregory Simon, MD, MPH
Investigator, Center for Health Studies Group Health Cooperative

Can You Thrive with a Mood Disorder?

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance has designated 2014 as the Year of Thriving. Throughout the year, they are challenging the organization and the mental health community to set higher goals, to shift the conversation from “surviving” or “managing” a mood disorder to truly thriving.

In a recent DBSA podcast, Dr. Joseph Calabrese and I discuss the limitations of current treatment options for mood disorders and the need within the clinical and patient communities to shift expectations and raise treatment goals to complete remission of symptoms and sustained wellness.

We are challenging our entire field—clinicians, researchers, administrators, and policy makers—to set higher goals for mental health treatment. Our goal is not simply to control or reduce symptoms, but to eliminate them.

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Target Zero: Redefining the Clinical Definition of Success


The first priority in treating a mood disorder is ensuring that the person is out of immediate crisis. But should this be the end goal? Too often researchers, providers, family members, and peers consider a stable mood as a measurement of a successful outcome.

On April 1, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) kicked off a month-long program challenging the mental health community to raise expectations from fewer symptoms to zero symptoms. “Target Zero to Thrive” is a campaign to insist on new standards for research and treatment that raise the bar from stability to lives of wellness.

Twenty-one million people in the U.S. live with mood disorders, and persisting symptoms increase the likelihood of:

  • relapse
  • functional impairment that increases the challenges of work, family, and day-to-day living
  • life-threatening co-occurring conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension
  • death by suicide

According to Allen Doederlein, president of DBSA, “Living with a mood disorder can damage hope and lower expectations so a person may not expect or think they deserve a full life. We as peers, clinicians, researchers, and family need to help them expect and achieve more.”

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Working to Dispel Stigma Among Asian Americans

PataSuyemotoPata Suyemoto
Working to Dispel Stigma Among Asian Americans

Cultural stigma and language barriers result in extremely low utilization of mental health services among Asian Americans (8.6 percent versus nearly 18 percent of general population). But individuals and organizations are working to narrow the gap between the need for services and the use of services. Pata Suyemoto is a Massachusetts-based mental health activist and educator. Mood disorders are present in both of her parents’ families, and she lives with treatment-resistant depression.

How was depression addressed in your own family?
My father, who is Japanese American, did not acknowledge mental health issues in his family, including those with my mother or me. The denial and sense of shame about mental health issues were unavoidable, and I still see that in other Asian Americans today.

What is the key issue and what are you doing to create change among Asian Americans?

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