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James Donaldson on Mental Health – Coroner Recommends More Support for International Students After 27 Suicides in Six Years


This hits “close to home” for me because for almost a decade now, I’ve been working with Chinese high schools and Universities in preparing the students to come to American and “Study Abroad”.

It’s difficult enough just having the students leave their country for a school year at a time, but when you take into consideration that some of them don’t adjust well or run into situations that they don’t know how to deal with, it’s troubling.


James Donaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of depression and suicidal thoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle


A Victorian coroner says international students need encouragement to use mental health services following 27 suicides between 2009 and 2015.

Struggling with a language barrier and battling insomnia, Chinese national and Melbourne university student Zhikai Liu ended his life in March 2016.

Sadly, his story is not that rare and a Victorian coroner has found improved strategies are needed to encourage at-risk students to seek help.

International students are being encouraged to study at regional universities rather than in major cities under a federal government plan to ease population growth in our capital cities.

Coroner Audrey Jamieson’s investigation into the 24-year-old’s death found 26 other international students also killed themselves between 2009 and 2015 – although that number is likely to be an underestimate.

The Coroners Prevention Unit compared the circumstances of the 27 international student suicides with a cohort of suicides among Australian-born students and found there was a lower number of diagnosed mental illness in those born overseas.

It also found only 22 percent of those international students saw someone about their mental health within the six weeks of their death.

Lecture theatre. Faculty of Engineering + Information Technology, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia. Architect: Denton Corker Marshall LLP, 2014.

The Victorian Coroner recommended the Department of Education work with education providers to help internationals students seek mental health support.

In contrast, 57 percent of Australian-born students seeking help in the same period.

Ms. Jamieson found that despite the absence of a suicide note, Mr. Liu exhibited signs of undiagnosed and untreated mental ill-health after relocating to Australia to study in November 2015.

She ruled his death as a suicide.

She recommended the Department of Education and Training work with Victorian education providers to identify strategies to help vulnerable international students seek mental health support.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

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