jmgt

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hey all, just wondering what you guys think if i mentioned a depression/suicide attempt and overcoming it years ago in my secondaries. would adcoms not like that? its for the "tell us about a personal adversity/tragedy and how you coped" type questions.

would the frown on that?

thanks in advance alls
 

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As much as I commend you for working through such a difficult situation in your life, there is a stigma attached to suicide attempts. If this isn't done very, very carefully, the adcoms might get the idea that you might "crack" again. Put another way: is it a "weakness" that you can turn into a strength?
 

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jmgt said:
hey all, just wondering what you guys think if i mentioned a depression/suicide attempt and overcoming it years ago in my secondaries. would adcoms not like that? its for the "tell us about a personal adversity/tragedy and how you coped" type questions.

would the frown on that?

thanks in advance alls
I think it will be a very good thing you can talk about, if you word it correctly. Basically they should not think of it as a weakness that still exists but something that made you stronger or gave you the desire to be a doctor.

EDIT: Jackie replied at the same time i see.
 
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jackieMD2007

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Great minds, think alike! *high five*
 

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It can be done, but you must be very confident that you're wording it in a way that will not make it appear that it's something you're still struggling with; that you've overcome it and have moved on.

If you write this essay, as personal as it is, definitely have someone unbiased read it over and make sure it doesn't come off as a potentially ongoing issue.
 

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I agree with the previous posts. It's a gamble. If you do it well and can prove you are way past it, I think it'd be a great thing for your app, but if they get any inkling you're not quite past it they will likely shut you out.

I say do it well, the world is full of middling applicants that don't get in, better to be liked a lot by a few schools and hated by many than to be considered average by all.
 

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As valiant of a thing that is, I wouldn't mention it. I think it would be a major red flag for adcoms. I think they want to see you deal with stress appropriately. Mentioning something like that shows that you don't deal with stress approriately. I would go with something more recent, that will show them how you deal with it now. Again, I'm not tryin' to diss you. Although it really would make you stand out, it might be taken as a major red flag.
 
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jmgt

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ok, thats what i was thinking too.. thanks for the input everyone. now to think of another personal challenge i've faced grrrrr
 
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Besides the wording, there's a few other things to consider:

What's the motivation for using it?

It will definitely stand out among the other secondaries, but is that how you want to be remembered/get started?

If it is something that you have overcome in your life, and it is truly over, then why are you talking about it now? (This may be a question on their mind.)

If you can relate how it will make you a better a doctor, then it may be worth including, but otherwise it may appear as a grab for sympathy points.

Hope these thoughts help... :luck:
 

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i think it can be a major red flag only if you mention the episode itself. i think if you additionally show them that you've learned from it and that you have recovered it can be a wonderful asset to your application. for example, telling them about the steps you've taken to recover, the way you've learned to deal with stress now, and how you can further help your classmates with similar stress as a med student and a future colleague would be a great way to approach this.
 

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jstuds_66 said:
As valiant of a thing that is, I wouldn't mention it. I think it would be a major red flag for adcoms. I think they want to see you deal with stress appropriately. Mentioning something like that shows that you don't deal with stress approriately. I would go with something more recent, that will show them how you deal with it now. Again, I'm not tryin' to diss you. Although it really would make you stand out, it might be taken as a major red flag.
I agree. Adcoms ( i have no idea what this stands for yet ) look at how many classes you take at the same time. Seeing that most people can get A's taking 2 classes at a time, they take into account stress level. And I assume med school doesn't get any easier.

But I know nothing.
 
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Definitely do NOT mention it. It will hurt much more than help. There is still a stigma associated with such events. Medical school and residency are stressful beyond belief, and such an event would really cause an adcom to worry.
 

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adcom = admission committees.
 

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Don't do it. They're going to think "Life is going to get more stressful now, and we don't want to be the med school known for students offing themselves."
 
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i definitely was not thinking of writing it for sympathy. but it was a real challenge i had to overcome, and i did learn about myself and got stronger from the experience. there may be a stigma to it but i'm not at all embarrassed/ashamed of having to go through that. no one should be

by the way, i'm a crisis and suicide counselor now, so yeah..i have recovered
 

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^ Then talk about being a crisis and suicide counselor. You wouldn't apply for a job at the FBI as a police officer while mentioning your previous history of incarceration, would you?
 
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Rafa said:
^ Then talk about being a crisis and suicide counselor. You wouldn't apply for a job at the FBI as a police officer while mentioning your previous history of incarceration, would you?

that is not a 'personal tragedy/challenge' i've overcome. You make a good point about the fbi thing, but many counselors HAVE had personal experience with suicide/depression...so they can relate to the people they are helping.
 

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talk about the depression. don't talk about the suicide attempt.
 

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jackieMD2007 said:
As much as I commend you for working through such a difficult situation in your life, there is a stigma attached to suicide attempts. If this isn't done very, very carefully, the adcoms might get the idea that you might "crack" again. Put another way: is it a "weakness" that you can turn into a strength?

yes a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge stigma. I think that regardless of how he/she conveys the issue on paper adcoms will be very wary of his/her true stability.

However I do think that discussing your work as a suicide counselor would be great.
 

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jmgt said:
that is not a 'personal tragedy/challenge' i've overcome. You make a good point about the fbi thing, but many counselors HAVE had personal experience with suicide/depression...so they can relate to the people they are helping.
I agree - and if I didn't think it could adversely affect your chances, I'd say "put it" in; it's part of who you are. But if you've gotten this far, you should know how to play the game. And you know there's a hypocritical stigma in the medical community (not to mention the US et al at large) concerning mental illnesses. There are four basic people adcoms will do anything to keep out of their schools: stupid people, dishonest people, violent people, and mentally unstable people. I don't consider you or anyone else who gets treatment and works through a mental illness to be unstable - but the adcoms are *looking* for reasons to reject people. They have to, due to the number of applicants per year. Anything in your application that they deem to be a risk toward you not graduating or not enabling other people to graduate will go down as a risk in the minds of the adcom. For now, people with prior suicide attempts are a no-no. So in conclusion, I'll say it again: leave it out.
 
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Rafa said:
^ Then talk about being a crisis and suicide counselor. You wouldn't apply for a job at the FBI as a police officer while mentioning your previous history of incarceration, would you?
I completely agree. Perfect example of turning a negative into a positive. Without going into details (like mentioning the suicide attempt), you can talk about how elements of your life led you to become a crisis and suicide counselor - how the challenges you faced showed you how to overcome them and share that knowledge with others, blahblahblah. Great stuff. Keep it general.

And good for you! :thumbup:

And about the sympathy comment... I am not at all saying that that is how I was seeing it, but these adcoms get all kinds of papers and stories and people of varying emotional maturity, and it may easily be seen in that light if the motivation for bringing it up isn't clear.
 

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Definately something to talk about since it is a MAJOR struggle that was dealt with and overcome. BUT, it has to stated and talked about in the right manner and how it helped you grow as a person.
 

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jmgt said:
hey all, just wondering what you guys think if i mentioned a depression/suicide attempt and overcoming it years ago in my secondaries. would adcoms not like that? its for the "tell us about a personal adversity/tragedy and how you coped" type questions.

would the frown on that?

thanks in advance alls
Hi there,
I serve on an admissions committee and as an advisor to the Dean of Students at two medical schools. I would advise you NOT to mention a suicide attempt in your secondary application especially if you did not mention it in your personal statement. If you did mention it in your personal statement, there is little that you can do at this point.

You could mention that you suffered a life-threatening illness (which is very true) and that going through that process made you stronger. I would leave out the details and explain your emotional reaction, how you overcame your illness (again do not be specific) and how you have used that adversity to spur yourself on to higher achievements.

At one of my medical schools, one of the students committed suicide during his freshman year. He was near the top of his class but obviously having a great deal of pain that he did not share with anyone. It profoundly affected several of his classmates with two having to take a leave of absence.

This being said, I would say that a past suicide attempt could end up being a very negative factor in terms of your application. It's not fair that you should bear a stigma because you have overcome your depression but do you want to take a chance with this?

Other than the above, I am at a loss as to how you can spin this so that it would be a positive instead of a negative. Medical school administrations are very "gun shy" when it comes to mental illness and sad to say, most of the folks who will be making the decision as to whether to admit you or not admit you are not clinical physicians like myself but Ph.Ds who can be rather narrow-minded.

Good luck and I am happy that you have survived. You will be an asset to your patients with this background.

njbmd :)
 

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Your application to med school is not a confessional.

While your story is personally significant and has surely affected your life, it is going to be a huge red flag.

I wouldn't lie about it -- if you get asked at an interview about your suicide counseling experiences, that would be an appropriate time to tell your story, but otherwise, the less said the better.
 

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Medical school and residency are some of the highest pressure times of anyones life. I would worry what an adcom would think about offering an acceptance to someone who's already tried to commit suicide.

My general rule for what to mention to adcoms is this: would you mention it at an in-person interview? I couldn't ever imagine dropping mention of a suicide attempt at an interview, so I wouldn't include it in an application.
 

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Thread: "mention suicide attempt??"
Last post: notdeadyet
 

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Of course you shouldn't feel ashamed or stigmatized by your past, but neither should you expect adcoms to not have normal, human reactions to a suicide attempt. It's not being judgmental or narrow-minded to question such an applicant's ability to handle med school.

mintendo said:
talk about the depression. don't talk about the suicide attempt.
That's a great solution, I think. Safer and still conveys your story in a truthful way.
 

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Rafa said:
you know there's a hypocritical stigma in the medical community (not to mention the US et al at large) concerning mental illnesses. There are four basic people adcoms will do anything to keep out of their schools: stupid people, dishonest people, violent people, and mentally unstable people. I don't consider you or anyone else who gets treatment and works through a mental illness to be unstable - but the adcoms are *looking* for reasons to reject people.

Steer clear of depression, too, for the same reasons that you wouldn't mention suicide. Adcoms are very skittish about possible recurrence of an illness that would jepardize your performance & class standing.

Best advice is to use the ephemism "life threatening illness". This can pretty much cover mental and physical illness. In either case, the care you received -- including the help of caring health care professionals -- along with other things you did to cope with the stress of your illness is the topic at hand.

I've been told that someone failed to get admitted in >12 schoosl after using the "life-threatening" but otherwise vague description of a depressive illness. Proceed at your own risk.
 
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LizzyM said:
Steer clear of depression, too, for the same reasons that you wouldn't mention suicide. Adcoms are very skittish about possible recurrence of an illness that would jepardize your performance & class standing.

Best advice is to use the ephemism "life threatening illness". This can pretty much cover mental and physical illness. In either case, the care you received -- including the help of caring health care professionals -- along with other things you did to cope with the stress of your illness is the topic at hand.
Would you suggest not explaining something at all then? Just take you chances on how a person's failings will be perceived? Or would you explain the difficulties by taking a chance and mentioning the illness (e.g. depression)?
 

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zach1201 said:
Would you suggest not explaining something at all then? Just take you chances on how a person's failings will be perceived? Or would you explain the difficulties by taking a chance and mentioning the illness (e.g. depression)?
the OP is trying to answer a supplemental "tell us about a personal adversity/tragedy and how you coped" type question. Having a life threatening illness is a personal adversity. The specific diagnosis is not the adcoms business. What they do want to know is how the applicant coped. The adcom is looking for a description of one's coping skills. They are not probing for diagnoses of mental illness and that shouldn't be offered as a prelude to a description of your coping with adversity.
 

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i mentioned depression in my essay (not a completely diagnosed clinical depression but it affected my academics nonethe less. I didnt really dwell on it, but if it is a reason why you may have an unexplained dip in your grades, id certainly include it, long as you show them how you got over it, and that your depression or whatever it is, is one that was relevant and not as trivial as, say getting a bad grade on a test. Dont dwell on it, dont make a sob story, show them how you grabbed the reigns to your own life and moved on.
 

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No, don't mention it in your PS. But if you were depressed enough to attempt suicide, there must have been some pretty big stresses/problems in your life which you could use as "personal challenges you have overcome." So focus on that aspect of your struggle, not the suicide attempt.
 

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I would also caution against mentioning this. If I were reading your application I would be wary of accepting you.

BMEkid09 said:
Definately something to talk about since it is a MAJOR struggle that was dealt with and overcome. BUT, it has to stated and talked about in the right manner and how it helped you grow as a person.
 

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Yeah, I agree with what everyone's saying... do not mention the suicide attempt; it's nothing to be ashamed of but it is a major turn-off. I mean, it's a shocking thing to mention, no matter how much you slice it and dice it. Your position as a crisis counselor = great; you mentioning how you became a crisis counselor = not so great.

What you want to do in your essays (from what I know) is convey to the ad-coms subtly why they should accept you into their program with each word that you write. Under no circumstances should you give them a reason to reject you. This is a reason. Even casually mentioning it ever so slightly in a passing sentence or so would surprise them. Remember, the medical profession is still arguably the most conservative of all the professions -- you're not exactly dealing with a lot of people who can relate to how you felt.

Obviously it's a great thing to overcome but there is a right and wrong time to bring a subject like this up. First impressions mean EVERYTHING. I mean, not to trivialize this by making a stupid example, but let's say you went on a date (not sure if you're a guy or a girl, but I'll use you as a girl just for this hypothetical). Would you really mention your suicide attempt on the first date? Don't you think your date's attitude would change ever so slightly and he would try to find a way to get out of there? It's not a first-date topic, that's why. You tell him about it once you get more involved and you start to learn more about one another. This is probably the biggest first date of your life. Don't mention this topic.
 

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yourmom25 said:
i think it can be a major red flag only if you mention the episode itself. i think if you additionally show them that you've learned from it and that you have recovered it can be a wonderful asset to your application. for example, telling them about the steps you've taken to recover, the way you've learned to deal with stress now, and how you can further help your classmates with similar stress as a med student and a future colleague would be a great way to approach this.

I finally know exactly who you are:


looks like one of your photos is going to become my new avatar...hahahaha
 

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There are four basic people adcoms will do anything to keep out of their schools: stupid people, dishonest people, violent people, and mentally unstable people.
Yes...look at the example of the Jefferson incident. Had they known that that guy was psychotic he would have likely not been accepted
 

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jmgt said:
hey all, just wondering what you guys think if i mentioned a depression/suicide attempt and overcoming it years ago in my secondaries. would adcoms not like that? its for the "tell us about a personal adversity/tragedy and how you coped" type questions.

would the frown on that?

thanks in advance alls
If you mention suicide attempts on a medical school application, you might as well have committed suicide, since you will never get into medical school.

Some people equate a suicide attempt to the crime of murder. Risking finding out what the admissions committee thinks would be suicide. They obviously aren't going to think more highly of you in any case, so what's the point?
 

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jmgt said:
i definitely was not thinking of writing it for sympathy. but it was a real challenge i had to overcome, and i did learn about myself and got stronger from the experience. there may be a stigma to it but i'm not at all embarrassed/ashamed of having to go through that. no one should be

by the way, i'm a crisis and suicide counselor now, so yeah..i have recovered
I also was a suicide and crisis counselor and I also attempted suicide after a major life changing event, and at times when I felt i totally lost control over everything. It was not something I EVER considered writing about...it's the lowest times of my life and lookiung back on it, it makes me seem so weak and inadequate and I'm horrified over my experiences and how badly it hurt others and affected all our lives. I can not see anything good coming from it to be worth mentioning it. I think it raises a MAJOR red flag and it's very dangerous because I think it would be hard to convince adcoms that this will never happen again. As others have said med school is very stressful and what's to make an adcom think if you're really stressed out you'll freak and attmept it again? What's to convince them, you're totally recovered? it's hard to totally recover from clinical depression.
 

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Yeah, I have to go with the others who say DO NOT mention anything about personally experiencing depression. Even if you are sure that you've recovered now, they have no way of knowing that for sure.
I definitely understand and accept that depression is nothing to be ashamed of, but even I would probably be reluctant to admit someone who acknowledged having depression just because I know how stressful and isolating the adjustment to med school can be. It would be very easy for it to trigger an emotional breakdown in someone.
Perhaps talking about the challenge of your first day as a crisis counselor might make a better impression.
 

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Very true... Depression and suicide are increasingly serious issues in medicine. If you are having trouble with suicide now it's going to get much harder in med school and as a physician.

Suicide rates are skyrocketing and physicians have to be hush hush about their depression in order to avoid sanctions or a possible loss of their medical license.

Just do a google search for physician suicide or depression...
 

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Like Jackie said, don't mention it....it will only make them question whether it could happen again, and if your previously suicide attempt was due to stressors in your life, then that will make it look even worse for you since medical school is no walk in the park.

J
 

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I think that by writing about your experiences as a counselor, you can sufficiently communicate to adcoms that you understand what it's like to deal with extreme pressure and debilitating depression. Being a suicide counselor involves dealing with people who are at their most vulnerable, and requires such an intense level of compassion, empathy, and courage. I think you should absolutely highlight this experience -- having faced severe depression yourself will enhance the feeling and empathy behind your essay, without your having to state it outright.

It's discouraging to think that doctors would discriminate against a medical condition, but I think these posters are right; you might have to assume the worst in adcoms in order to protect yourself from undue censure. It doesn't mean you are ashamed -- it just means you are protecting your own privacy, and recognizing that the world isn't always as understanding as it should be.

Your experiences and maturity will make you a wonderful doctor -- best of luck.
 

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jstuds_66 said:
As valiant of a thing that is, I wouldn't mention it. I think it would be a major red flag for adcoms. I think they want to see you deal with stress appropriately. Mentioning something like that shows that you don't deal with stress approriately. I would go with something more recent, that will show them how you deal with it now. Again, I'm not tryin' to diss you. Although it really would make you stand out, it might be taken as a major red flag.
I totally agree with this post. I've been depressed and it's no light matter, but it is a red flag. Theoretically, adcoms are open to listenening to whatever you have to write or say, but realistically, they are also *real* people and may really get stuck on the fact that you attempted suicide. Med school is extremely stressful for most med students.

I know it's not the same, but what if someone was a heroin addict and their experience in a hospital made them want to pursue medicine. They might be clean, but the adcoms might raise an eyebrow or two.
 
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