By: Ben Abrams
Robin Williams’ death on Aug. 11 cast a dark shadow over the humor he was famous for. His suicide was believed to be caused by his long battle with depression and early stages of Parkinson’s disease. Right now, the issue of suicide is in the national spotlight, and it hits close to home for a number of college students.
According to Emory University, over 100,000 college students commit suicide each year. It is the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 25 and 34 and third for those between the ages of 15 and 24. The thoughts and attempts of suicide are higher among adults between 18 and 25.
Why is the idea of suicide so contagious on a college campus? Emory’s study claims there are multiple reasons that students would want to end their lives. Some of the reasons are academic pressure, low social network, difficulty adjusting, fear of failure, and drugs or alcohol.
Mental illness is powerful. It can be blamed for about two-thirds of suicides in college.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) defines depression as “a medical illness that affects one’s thoughts, feelings, behavior, mood, and physical health. Symptoms include irregular sleeping, changes in appetite, poor concentration, and loss of energy, a lack of interest or pleasure, low self-esteem, feeling guilty or helpless, constant aches and pains, and recurring thoughts of death or suicide.”
There are two forms of treatment for depression, the first being medication. The two most common medications are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Both medications contain side effects of stomach aches, sexual dysfunction, insomnia, dizziness, headaches and weight change.
The third most common med- icine, triclinic antidepressants (TA) are not used as much as SSRIs or SNRIs, because they have a higher risk of side effects. They are treated as a back-up plan if the first two drugs do not work. The symptoms of TA are sleepiness, nervousness, dry mouth, constipation, bladder problems, blurred vision, and skin rash.
According to NAMI the other methods of treating depression are by psychotherapy and electroshock therapy for severe cases.
Help lines are ready to help anyone who is dealing with mental illness. For depression, NAMI hotline is 1-800-950-6264. The National Parkinson’s Foundation can be found at 1-800-327-4545. The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention can be reached at 1-888-333-2377. Any of these organizations are ready to help anyone get out of the darkness.