National Spotlight Turns to Depression Once Again
> 12/29/2005 12:19:14 PM

It's really tragic that it takes a high profile suicide or suicide attempt to really focus the nation's attention on something that is clearly a major health problem.

As most of you have probably heard, on Thursday December 23rd, James Dungy, the 18-year-old son of Indiannapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy, was found dead in his college apartment by his girlfriend. The preliminary report by the medical examiner established that the young Dungy took his own life. The exact cause of death will not be determined for another couple of weeks.

Since this incident it has come to light that James Dungy had made a previous attempt at suicide and was rushed to the hospital after overdosing on pain medications. It is clear that he was troubled and yet, this tragedy was not stopped. Yesterday, Tony Cox, a guest host on NPR, used James Dungy's death as a jumping off point for a discussion with with Dr. Alvin Poussaint of Harvard Medical School and with John Head, author of Standing in the Shadows: Understanding and Overcoming Depression in Black Men. The three discuss suicide, as well as the barriers and prejudices that often prevent black men from seeking and receiving treatment for depression. You can listen to the full interview here.

Each year it seems that a celebrity or especially tragic suicide refocuses public attention on depression and mental health care. It's just a shame that more often than not, this public exposure comes to little in the fight against the disease. 2005 saw the death of Hunter S. Thompson, Kyle Ambrogi and now James Dungy at their own hands. I can only hope that their suffering can help others realize that their lives need not end in more tragedy.

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