1997-1998 indexDistributed October 1, 1997
Back from the edge
Student organizes suicide prevention group; will serve on national panel
Brown University junior DeQuincy Lezine has organized the Brown chapter of SPAN, the Suicide Prevention Advocacy Network, after surviving three suicide attempts. He has been selected to serve on the Centers for Disease Control committee to formulate a national strategy for suicide prevention.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Soft-spoken, studious and overflowing with school spirit, DeQuincy Lezine doesn't "look" like he's battling depression and suicidal thoughts. But he is. Since his freshman year at Brown in 1995, this psychology concentrator has survived three suicide attempts and only recently was diagnosed as bipolar (formerly called manic depression). Ironically, the death of his Brown therapist, Maria Otoya, in a 1995 plane crash and the death of fellow classmate Darin Tao in 1996, inspired Lezine to go on - and to help others in the process.
Last year, Lezine organized the Brown chapter of SPAN, the Suicide Prevention Advocacy Network, a non-profit organization based in Georgia. He served as a panelist at the group's national conference in Washington, D.C., in early May of this year, which led to an interview on CNN. SPAN asked him to redesign its web site after they visited the site he did for the Brown chapter. Last summer, he was on a panel at the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill's (NAMI) national conference in Albuquerque, N.M. And Lezine recently was selected to participate in the 23-member committee formed by the Centers for Disease Control to formulate a national strategy for suicide prevention. He is the only university student on the committee, which will have its first meeting in Washington in November.
Lezine's odyssey is unique, with specific circumstances, but it offers insights into an all-too-common problem among young people. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth ages 15 to 24.######