Thursday, September 07, 2006

Managing suicide risks: What about your school?

Last week, I posted about 1 in 5 students self mutilating at two Ivy League schools. In that post I mentioned that I was doing research, but never said what I was researching.

The research topic was suicide at college. My line of thinking was trying to understand if those students who commit suicide are living with a diagnosis and possibly receiving services from their DSS office for Depression or Bipolar disorder. I’m still looking at information I have been gathering.

Directly related to this subject, just yesterday, I didn’t have to look far to find the latest news story about college suicides. The Associated Press had one plastered on the site of my local paper, announcing
Colleges Grapple with student suicides
for all the world to see.
The deeper issue at the heart of that story is that the female student profiled had attempted suicide and was kicked out of her dorm for violating the school’s policy against suicide. Pop quiz…isn’t it depressed people that attempt suicide? Isn’t depression covered under the ADA?

Apparently Hunter College finally saw the error in that line of thinking and settled with the student, allowing her to continue classes and paid her a financial settlement as well. Additionally, the college is abandoning its suicide policy, but may still temporarily remove troubled students from residence halls. However, a spokesperson said that evictions will not be automatic.

The supporting information in that article suggests that schools may be held liable if a student commits suicide in his or her dorm room. Two judges have ruled that a school may have a duty to act in a preventive capacity if the student’s risk of suicide was foreseeable. As a result, some schools have tried to act in a more aggressive manner and sent students home when this risk became apparent.

Interesting thought provokers here, don’t you think?

How about your school, does it have a policy banning suicide? If so, how does this impact your students with psychological disorders? Is this legal? Is this ethical? Is it the right thing to do?

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