Mental Illness does not discriminate

By Alexa Milano
January 28, 2014

The tragic story about 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania freshman Madison Holleran committing suicide by jumping off of a Philadelphia parking garage has made quite an impact in the media. The community was shaken by the sudden death of a student who seemed to have it all.  Between the thoughts of remorse and grief, it led some to ask the question why. Why all of the sudden would this successful college student take her own life?

Friends, family members and teammates all commented on how there were little-to-no warning signs of Holleran being in such a state of mind that she would take her own life. There were friends who spoke to Holleran a few hours before she committed suicide and said they didn’t see any warning signs.

This story also brought up another questions among the community. Is there too much pressure on college students today? Holleran was on the varsity track and field team and received a 3.5 GPA her first semester. Some believe that Holleran’s feeling of being overwhelmed with stress led to her ending her life.

According to Emory University, suicidal thoughts, making plans for suicide, and suicide attempt are higher among adults aged 18 to 25 than among adults over the age of 26 and according to the University of Virginia there are more suicide-related deaths in colleges than alcohol-related deaths.

For a society that seems to have come so far and seems to be accepting of so many things, why is there still a stigma around mental health? Nobody knows for sure what the factors were that contributed to Holleran’s death, However. it is not unknown that there is still a stigma around mental health.

For reasons that seem unclear, we, as a society, are perfectly accepting of someone who has a broken arm and has to wear a cast or someone who twists their ankle and has to wear crutches, yet there’s an idea that taking medicine for a mental health issue has to be kept under wraps.

This doesn’t make sense. If you broke your arm, you wouldn’t try to hide the fact that you wear a cast. Why can’t we look at mental health the same way?

There have been so many discussions and so many efforts being made in order to get rid of this negative stigma surrounding mental health but when will the stigma finally start to disappear?

We as a staff believe that it has to start with acceptance. Mental illnesses do not discriminate. They do not pick and choose who they are going to affect. They do not pass over certain people because they are busy, or pretty, or tall, or short, or male, or female, or brunette, or blonde, or freshmen, or seniors. They have the ability to affect anyone; that’s what makes them so dangerous.

We believe that as soon as people start accepting others who have these illnesses, as soon as we start truly accepting the idea that it is not by fault of the affected that they’re feeling the way they do will we finally be able to move forward. Mental illnesses do not make you weak; asking for help makes you strong.

Adjusting to college is a vulnerable time for everyone and it’s important to take the necessary measures to take care yourself. There is always an answer and there is always help to be found somewhere.

Alexa Milano

Junior communications major, marketing minor at Cabrini College. News editor of The Loquitur, President of the Campus Activities and Programming (CAP) Board, student ambassador. Enjoys napping and being productive all at the same time; irony at its finest.

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