Saint Louis University

ST. LOUIS - Two Saint Louis University medical students are taking the multimedia route to raise awareness about teen suicide among tech savvy millennials.

Fourth-year medical students Christine Charles
(left) and Sonalee Ravi shoot their video project
on SLU's medical campus.

The video, titled ‘Depression Awareness and Suicide Prevention,' aims to spread awareness about the growing problem of teen suicide and encourage teens to take steps to prevent it when they see the warning signs. The video also underscores the importance of studying mental illness and adolescent psychology in medical education and how it helps physicians serve their patients better.

"Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people," said Sonalee Ravi, fourth-year medical student and one of the producers of the video. "Through this video, we want the youth to know that they are not alone. There are people who can help them."

Based on real-life cases, the video includes a series of monologues enacted by five second-year medical students. The main goal of this project is to inform teens that mental illness is not a stigma that needs to be hidden. Rather many organizations and professionals can help those who are open about their problems and get life-saving treatments.

"A lot of medical problems are accompanied by psychiatric illnesses and they can often worsen the patient's conditions," said Christine Charles, fourth year-medical student and co-producer of the video. "A lot of teens have a short-sighted view of their life. This video will give them another perspective."

This video project has been developed as part of the Rodney Coe Distinction in Community Service Program. A four year longitudinal service program, the Coe program allows medical students to learn about health issues throughout the community and develop leadership skills to address the problems. 

"There is a stigma about behavioral mental health - how do we talk about it, how do I bring it up," said David Pole, deputy director of Area Health Education Centers and co-director of the Coe Program at SLU. "These students are creating resources for the youth and for this topic to be discussed openly. That is one of the most exciting pieces of this project."

Shot on the medical campus at SLU, this video project is in partnership with Kids Under Twenty One (KUTO), a St. Louis-based organization dedicated to preventing suicide. The video will be released in January next year, and will be available on Youtube and distributed in area high schools.

Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in five key areas: cancer, liver disease, heart/lung disease, aging and brain disease, and infectious disease.