Paula J. Clayton dies at 86; Helped to de-stigmatize depression and suicide

She also demonstrated that while grief and bereavement can trigger major depression, periods of grief, even lasting a year, are not in th...


She also demonstrated that while grief and bereavement can trigger major depression, periods of grief, even lasting a year, are not in themselves depressive episodes. And she showed that grief, far from progressing through a well-described five-step process, is personal and idiosyncratic – an idea that has changed the way doctors and the public understand how people deal with loss.

Dr. Clayton stepped down as president of Minnesota in 1999 and, after moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico, began teaching part-time at the University of New Mexico.

Barely six years later, however, a recruiter contacted her: The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention needed a medical director, someone who could publicize the work of its network of researchers to the general public.

Dr. Clayton jumped at the chance, leaving his semi-retired life in New Mexico for New York. She has created films for schools and parents, and she has become a constant presence at government hearings, from Congress to city councils.

She spoke particularly about suicide among Native Americans and military and veterans, whose rates rose after the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. She urged insurance companies to improve mental health coverage. And even after her retirement in 2015, she continued to write and speak, convinced that with sufficient public education the country could start to lower its tragically high suicide rates.

“Before her, people talked about suicide as if it was this mystical and horrific behavior,” Dr. Friedman said. “His work has destigmatized depression, and because of that, so many people owe their lives to him. “

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). You can find a list of additional resources at SpeakingOfSuicide.com/ressources.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Paula J. Clayton dies at 86; Helped to de-stigmatize depression and suicide
Paula J. Clayton dies at 86; Helped to de-stigmatize depression and suicide
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