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Mental Health Advocate Speaks at Eastern

Written by Kevin Antonucci


MALMON 9-14-09.jpg 

Willimantic, Conn. - "Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students," said Alison Malmon, founder and executive director of the Active Minds Suicidal Prevention Group, as she spoke to Eastern's students, faculty, and staff in the Student Center Theatre on Sept. 15.

            She continued, "Every 18 minutes in the United States, a suicide happens, and another innocent life is lost." Malmon's lecture was in observance of Suicide Prevention Week, declared last year by Gov. M. Jodi Rell.

            Malmon created Active Minds, a student advocacy group, in 2001 during her junior year of college after her older brother, Brian, took his own life. "He was a star, nonetheless, just an incredible person that everybody loved," Malmon said of Brian, who maintained a 3.9 GPA, wrote for the local newspaper and eventually became a sport's editor and columnist. "Brian was the ideal student that we all want to be as we grow up."

            Malmon said that 15 to 25 is the average age range for an adult to become schizophrenic and/or clinically depressed. Statistics show that 19 million adults are clinically depressed and one in every five adults experiences depression at least once.        

            Malmon's whole life perspective changed after watching her brother deal with schizophrenia before taking his own life while attending Columbia University. No one at the University of Pennsylvania, where she attended college, seemed interested in dealing with the issue, so she stepped forward.

            "After watching everything with my brother, and then entering college, I knew immediately something had to be done to help students cope with the many stresses involved in attending college." Malmon and Active Minds try to create a comfortable environment for students to speak about troubles, worries and concerns that may lead to depression. Active Minds seeks to utilize peer advocacy and get students to speak out.

            Malmon's Active Minds group is in its ninth year and operates on college campuses across the United States, helping students prevent suicide by seeking help when it's needed. The organization has been featured live on CNN and Good Morning America and also featured in the New York Times.  Malmon said more than 90 percent of new college students have something psychologically bothering them when entering college.

            Malmon went on to say she has found that students really want to be involved in facilitating others to seek help if they need to talk to someone. "All I want is for the students to talk together and look out for one another so that nobody has to go through what my family and I dealt with," Malmon stated in conclusion of her lecture at Eastern.


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