Depression Awareness at the Oscars, Wednesday 25 February 2015

From one of the freshest, most guileless faces of the evening came the most astonishing remark: “When I was 16, I tried to kill myself.”

We are referring, of course, to Graham Moore, who used his win for Best Adapted Screenplay (The Imitation Game) at Sunday’s Oscars to deliver powerful remarks about suicide awareness and depression.

It was a milestone Oscars moment.  Moore brought what is normally a hushed subject into millions of living rooms across the world.  He deserved the standing ovation he received.

We are inspired by his candor and courage. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in ages 15 to 24 – and depression is the primary cause.  The recent tragic suicide of another creative young person, Draven Rodriguez, 17, of internet fame, was a sobering counterpoint to Moore’s story of resilience.

Last November, HDRF made Depression in Children and Adolescents the focus of its Eighth Annual HOPE Luncheon Seminar.  We did so because helping teens who are struggling to be more open about their pain can be a life-saver.  At the Seminar, national authority Dr. David Brent shared the latest information about symptoms, risk factors and treatments for depression in children and adolescents. If you would like to view his talk, click here.  His talk begins at the 33 minute time code, but the whole Seminar is worth watching.

We also want to note that Moore was not the only visionary to shine a spotlight on depression at the Oscars.  We congratulate winners Dana Perry and Ellen Goosenberg Kent for their short documentary Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1, which highlights the mental health crisis among U.S. war veterans.

The Academy Awards are considered to be a reflection of popular culture.  As a society, and as public awareness grows, we are starting to chip away at the harmful culture of silence that still surrounds depression and related mood and emotional disorders.

We are also pleased to report exciting progress by our advanced brain research team – the Depression Task Force.  A high-level meeting last week revealed that we’re on the path to new genes and enzymes for possible new medications.  Stay tuned for more to come after our mid-research summary in April.

Thank you for your continued support of our critical mission to advance the understanding and treatment of depression.

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