After a suicide attempt his freshman year, Luke Tang was hospitalized. While he was there, he signed a contract with Harvard saying he could return if he received mental health counseling. He was able to return for his sophomore year even though, the lawsuit alleges, Harvard personnel knew that he had not received the required mental health counseling.
Since his death, his parents have set up a foundation in his name to raise awareness of signs of depression and other mental health issues, especially as it affects Asian Americans. In addition, a short documentary called Looking for Luke was produced by the Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds to educate and to destigmatize seeking help for mental health problems. In the trailer above, the fact that Luke committed suicide is hidden for a long time and only told to one of his friends six months after his death. My personal experience with the issue of mental health in Asian American families is that any problems are hushed up, considered a shame on the family that is not to be discussed openly, and likely not to be dealt with directly. In particular, this article on Filipino Americans and mental health really resonated with me and other family members. Our family, like many others in Silicon Valley, have known Asian American students who have committed suicide.
From Time: “A 15-year-old high schooler, only identified by his surname Choi, jumped out of his apartment home in the southeastern city of Gyeongsan last Monday after being bullied for roughly two years. His death — the second youth suicide in South Korea this month — has shocked the nation and called into question the government’s efforts to stop school violence.” South Korea is known for its high suicide rates especially among young people. It is about time the government intentionally pursues obvious causes like bullying, and hopefully initiates some real change not only in the educational sphere but in wider society concerning family relationships and dealing with judgment and pressure.
Staff Sargent Blaine G. Dugas Jr received three months and a demotion in the 3rd trial associated with Danny Chen’s Suicide. He was convicted of dereliction of duty, specifically that he failed to look after the well-being of his soldiers by monitoring corrective training. He was found not guilty of three other charges of making a false official statement and two other dereliction of duties counts. Dugas’s defense attorney said that racial slurs that fellow solider’s called Chen could be viewed as “terms of endearment.” Dugas was given credit for time already served, so he won’t have any more prison time to serve. Two other soldiers have been convicted in the case, while five other trials are pending.
Kristina Wong delves deep into the sky high rates of depression and suicide among Asian American Women to make ‘Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.’
“I’m Definitely Not Crazy. But I Probably am Lying.”
My earliest memories of even thinking I might be depressed were met with warnings by my mother that if I ever dare seek professional help for depression, even as a kid, my employers would one day find out and fire me. It did bother me that being depressed-but-employed versus happy-and-unemployed was the better of the two (and only two) options, but I heeded her advice and never sought professional help. God forbid anyone know I was once a crazy 12-year old kid.
So I hid it for years. And not very well. Even into my college years, I managed to turn club meetings, sleepovers, friendships and intimate relationships into my own impromptu therapy sessions. Anything to avoid the stigma of actually seeking professional help! When I introduced myself to a circle of new friends, somehow unsolicited emotional clutter would always spill out with it. Sometimes my friends were halfway decent at playing Freud, but very often, they were so mired in their own messy lives that my problems just exhausted them. Continue reading “Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: Depression & Suicide Among Asian American Women”
“Eight of the 23 women scheduled to compete Saturday in the long program at the United States championships were Asian-Americans, who also excelled here among younger skaters… Without compulsory figures, skating became more like gymnastics. Jumping assumed a new urgency. Younger skaters could excel. The key to jumping is to leap high and spin quickly and tightly through two, three or four revolutions before returning to the ice. Asian skaters are often small and willowy, which can be an asset when jumping… Other cultural factors are also at play, coaches said. Discipline at home often transfers to discipline at the rink, Carroll said. Audrey Weisiger, a prominent Chinese-American coach, said: “A lot of Asian families really drive their kids, and I don’t mean in the car. They’re not allowed to be marginal.””
The article also mentions that former Olympians such as Kristi Yamaguchi and Michelle Kwan have a lot to do with inspiring, especially Asian American women, to take up the sport. I’m sure that is the case and why I believe that Asian American role models outside of traditionally accepted passions, careers and vocations are important. Of course, the drive and expectations can have a negative effect as well – where Asian Americans (especially women), might feel put an inordinate amount of pressure on themselves.