She was a freshman in college when she received a call that her brother Brian had died by suicide.
Alison Malmon, Founder and Executive Director of Active Minds, visited the Creighton Campus last week. Speaking to a packed-house, Malmon shared her personal story of loss and courage to make a difference.
Brian Malmon had always been a straight-A student, active in school plays and chorus, popular, and as many described him “hilariously funny.” He was a natural leader and people respected him. Not until the fall semester of his senior year in college did things begin to shift. He became withdrawn, depressed and was hearing voices. Malmon believes that he had suffered in silence for nearly four years before talking to a school counselor and ultimately deciding to take a leave of absence that fall.
“Like most people with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, the voices he heard were not violent or dangerous,” she explained. “They were more focused on telling Brian to do completely irrational things like “Pack up your dorm room and live on the street”, or “Walk up and down the stairs and don’t stop till I tell you.”
After a short-lived period of improvement, Brian took his own life at the age of 22.
Malmon created Active Minds in 2003 when she was just a junior at the University of Pennsylvania. She wanted to give fellow college students the opportunity to start the conversation about mental illness and suicide, with the hope that students would be encouraged to seek help and to seek it early.
She understands that breaking down the stigma surrounding mental illness will prevent future tragedies like the one that took Brian’s life. Today, there are over 400 Active Mind chapters across the country.