Last week was National Suicide Prevention week. I know that because it’s in my calendar. If it wasn’t, though, and if I hadn’t taken the time to mark down its importance, I would never have realized it. Nowhere did I see any campus events, any talks or news bulletins about it.

And that’s an issue, especially in a stressful environment that can potentially facilitate feelings of depression.

Depression is a serious issue for college students for obvious reasons. Away from home, overwhelmed by work and stressed out about getting enough exercise or gaining weight, it’s very easy for students to struggle emotionally and mentally.

According to research published by Newsweek in 2012, in fact, as much as 30 percent of college students report feelings of depression each year.

The College of Wooster does a pretty good job dealing with delicate issues like these. All first-years are required to take an online seminar about drugs and consent called “Think About It,” and there are posters listing resources for victims of sexual harassment or assault plastered in and around bathrooms.

The Longbrake Student Wellness Center is open 24 hours a day and is filled with counselors ready to talk to and give advice to anyone who needs it.

That being said, is it enough to combat depression?

While contact information is readily accessible for those dealing with sexual harassment issues, the depression counseling services of the Wellness Center are often ignored.

The fact is, even in our post-modern society there is still a serious stigma against those with mental illness, especially in men.

Because women have much higher rates of depression internationally than men, mental illness is associated with femininity and “female fragility.” In our culture of stigmas and machismo, most men refuse to go to therapy simply because of a fear that it might compromise their masculinity.

Gender disparities aside, the stigma enveloping those suffering from depression makes it difficult for anyone to open up and discuss their emotions.

People are held back by the fear that their friends might not understand, that they might be seen differently or that they might be persecuted for it.

I avoided talking about my mental illness for years almost solely because of the fear that when people found out, I’d be forced into going to therapy.

So how do we eradicate the shame, the ignominy of depression?

We talk about it.

We put it out in the open, make it known that there are resources available and other people suffering. In order to end stigmatization, the issue needs to be publicly addressed.

I’m not saying we need to normalize it — depression is obviously never a good thing — but we do need to work to make it possible for someone suffering to ask for help without fear of persecution.

It was Robin Williams who said, “I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone.”

So let’s stop thinking of mental illness as a weakness. It doesn’t make someone less of a person, and it isn’t a reason to look down on or shun anyone.

When it comes down to it, most people — whether it’s friends or faculty — are more than understanding and ready to jump in and help at a moment’s notice.

And it’s time to make that known.

Nicholas Shereikis, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at