San Diego recently experienced back to back murder suicides involving Hispanic families. Looking for insight, San Diego Red, the bilingual partner of the San Diego Union-Tribune, reached out to Pace’s Dr. Richard Shadick, asking him to shed light on these tragedies, put them into context of economic times and address cultural factors.
What are the warning signs of potential murder suicide; how rare is it and what resources are typically available?
Dr. Richard Shadick, director of the Counseling Center at Pace University in New York, said people who want to kill themselves usually give warning signs.
“Most notably, if someone has a history of violence they report feelings of depression, anger management difficulties, a sense of hopelessness and helplessness,” Shadick said. “There is social withdrawal from the family, community and friends. Substances can be involved.”
“Typically there are some difficulties that have occurred prior to a murder-suicide, financial difficulties, perhaps domestic violence,” he said.
The SanDiegoRed, the bilingual partner of the San Diego Union-Tribune, reported that according to health experts, Latinos suffer from mental illness about the same rate as the rest of the population but are less likely to seek help. In San Diego County, Latinos make up one-third of the region’s population but are just 20 percent of the adults who seek help at county mental health facilities.
“There is some shame associated with it,” Shadick said, echoing a well-known cultural barrier. There is an expectation among Latinos, he said, that “men should be able to handle their problems on their own, that they should be able to make money for the family and handle marital or relationship difficulties without relying on others.”
Many college counseling centers are more swamped than ever, therapists say, particularly at this time of year, in the frenzy of final exams and job searches.
Dr. Richard Shadick, Director of Pace University’s Counseling Center in New York City and an adjunct professor of psychology, was interviewed about trends in screening college students for mental health issues – what works, what hasn’t.
Within the counseling field, there is no consensus about whether there really are more college students with mental health issues or whether they are simply increasingly willing to ask for help.
Some say that antidepressants and more support has made it more possible than ever for a student who is mentally ill to attend college. Others have noted that this generation of students seems less able to cope with stress, for whatever reason.
At Pace University in New York, counseling director Richard Shadick and his staff give a presentation at each “University 101” class for freshman and give them a survey to help them get a read on substance abuse and mental health problems they may be having. The mental health staff also spends time on campus giving mini screenings called “checkups from the neck up” and refers students who need help to the counseling center.
Learn more about how mental health is being taken seriously here at Pace and at other college campuses.