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Research Suggests More Than Half of Young Adults Mentally Ill

February 2, 2009

A troubled, gun-wielding 23-year-old student at Virginia Polytechnic Institute goes on a campus rampage, killing 32 people and eventually himself. An MIT student commits suicide by ingesting cyanide, and another dies in a fire after an overdose.

Emotional problems were more than twice as common among students who had recently had a major loss - typically a romantic breakup - than among those who had not, says Dr. Mark Olfson, the Columbia University psychiatrist who led the National Epidemiologic Study on Alcohol and Related Conditions study.

It's not clear why, says Olfson, the Columbia University psychiatrist. "College students may be more concerned" that if they seek help they might jeopardize career opportunities or academic achievement, though he adds that even so, "colleges should make more of an effort to make services available and acceptable, particularly for alcohol use problems." Living at home with parents seems to protect kids' mental health, whether they are in college or not, the study found.

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