News in Brief: Psychiatrist Calls Attention to Student Suicide



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Attempting to raise awareness about suicide, a noted psychiatrist and author addressed UC Berkeley students and community members yesterday at the Bancroft Hotel.

Kay Redfield Jamison, a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University and author of "Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide," offered statistics on the number of college students who commit suicide.

At the event, sponsored by the Students for Mental Health Awareness, Jamison called on UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Berdahl and other university officials to address the ongoing problem of student suicide.

Suicide kills more college students than cancer, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, pneumonia and influenza, strokes, and AIDS combined, according to a report released by Surgeon General David Satcher.

"We do know that UC Berkeley does have a problem with a relatively high suicide rate for the size of the school," said Sharifa Freightman, a member of the campus group Students for Mental Health Awareness.

While Freightman said the university would not release campus suicide statistics to her group, she was confident the number of suicides at the school was a concern.

"Part of her comments today were stressing that UC agencies for mental health and top UC officials, from the chancellor on down, need to be focusing on these mental health issues and how they relate to suicide," said Freightman.

In light of several suicides at the university in the past few years, Students for Mental Health Awareness members said they asked Jamison to speak and invited many university officials, including the chancellor, to the event. Berdahl, however, was unable to attend.

"Suicide occurs quite often on the high stress college campuses like MIT, Stanford and UC Berkeley," said Henry Mailin, a member of the audience.

DUANE DE WITT

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