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Avoid Majoring in Depression: AFSP’s Back to College Campaign Raises Awareness


WASHINGTON, Oct. 6 -- The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) kicked off its “Avoid Majoring in Depression” campaign yesterday to raise awareness about the prevalence of college-age depression and the corresponding risk of suicide. The campaign launched with a media conference call, addressing the common stressors of college life, the warning signs of depression, the kinds of resources available for students, and what the public can do to de-stigmatize mental illness.

Experts say that making the first transition from high school to college, or even returning to school after a summer break, can be especially stressful for college students. In fact, according to a recent study by the American College Health Association, 63 percent said they had times when they felt things were hopeless, and 45 percent reported times of feeling so depressed it was difficult to function.

“Our goal here is to make mental health issues as respected and as discussed as physical issues,” said Alison Malmon, President and Executive Director of Active Minds On Campus, who participated on the media call.

AFSP leaders, medical experts, and mental health advocates urge university administrators around the country to lead the way in de-stigmatizing mental illness and providing easier access to treatment for those who need it. About 9 percent of male students and 18 percent of female students reported having been diagnosed with depression, and an estimated 1,100 college students commit suicide each year in the U.S.

“The bottom line,” said panelist Gail Griffith, a mental health advocate and author of Will’s Choice: A Suicidal Teen, a Desperate Mother, and a Chronicle of Recovery, “is that the risk of untreated depression is far greater than any risk that comes from taking SSRIs. For an illness so common, not enough people discuss it. Our primary goal is to raise the level of awareness among college students.”

Other participants on the media call included Dr. Mort Silverman, psychiatrist and member of AFSP’s Scientific Council, and Dr. David Fassler, child and adolescent psychiatrist and co- chair of the American Psychiatric Association’s Presidential Task Force on Mental Health on College Campuses.

For more information about coping with depression, preventing suicide or the AFSP please visit or call the toll free number at 1-888-333-AFSP.


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