“In America, for every three murders there are five suicides,” were the words projected on the screen in the Iadarola Center’s lecture hall on Wednesday, Sept. 17. Twenty-one Cabrini students gathered for Active Mind’s presentation of the film “The Truth about Suicide: Real Stories of Depression in College.”
The 27-minute documentary composed of real interviews, engaged Cabrini students in stories of other college students who had suffered from depression.
Also included were interviews from grieving siblings and friends who had lost a companion to suicide. Active Minds’ members distributed yellow ribbons and suicide fact sheets in order to raise awareness on suicide, the second leading cause of death among college students.
Cabrini’s Active Minds chapter launched in spring of 2008 and is one among 150 other campus chapters nation-wide. Active Minds is a non-profit organization, stationed in Washington DC., which seeks to inform on the mental health of college students.
Former University of Pennsylvania student Alison Malmon, following the suicidal death of her brother Brian, created Active Minds in 2001.
Founder and Executive Director of Active Minds Alison Malmon said, “Our goal with Active Minds is to utilize the student voice to raise mental health awareness on college campuses. We are working to promote a dialogue around the issues so they are understood and respected.”
The aim of Cabrini’s Active Minds chapter is to provide stress-free activities for students and information on mental health issues. “You can find out a lot of interesting facts that can benefit you and others in the future,” Megan Fasano, sophomore education major and a member of Active Minds, said.
They also seek to serve as a support group for struggling students, as some members have been personally affected. “I’ve had a lot of friends with problems. In two weeks from today, (it) will be the anniversary of my friend committing suicide. I joined to make people more aware,” Cristin Joy, sophomore education major and president of Active Minds, said.
As expressed during their presentation, Active Minds hopes to emphasize the commonality for college students to suffer from a mental issue, especially depression.
They plan on informing the college’s community about this commonality as, “A majority of college students experience symptoms that are suggestive of depression at one point or another during college,” Dr. Sara Maggitti, Cabrini’s director of counseling services, said.
Following the documentary, Active Minds’ members prompted questions which resulted in a group discussion. Questions asked included, “Do you think depression is a problem on campus?” and “How is depression in the media portrayed differently from real life?”
Student attendants talked about the many Cabrini students’ light view on mental issues and stressed that many of them use alcohol as a means for escaping daily pressures. They also shared personal experiences and encounters with depression and suicide through friends.
Before concluding, Active Minds’ members suggested seeking help for either those suffering or who knew someone suffering.
Encouraging further research on mental issues the group posted Internet links on the lecture hall’s board for interested students. Active Minds then told students of the free and confidential counseling services offered on campus.
“Our services are short term in nature and include individual psychotherapy, group therapy, outreach and consultation, as well as crisis intervention. All Cabrini students are eligible for our services,” Maggitti said of Cabrini’s services.
Following the close of Active Minds’ presentation, students took away a basic knowledge of suicide and depression. The students who attended not only learned about mental health issues on campus but also learned the significance of prevention.
“Active Minds at Cabrini College has the capacity to really make a difference on Cabrini’s Campus. I believe that Active Minds at Cabrini will have a great impact on the dialogue around issues of mental health and ensure that no student feels alone,” Malmon said.