Schools at risk no matter their suicide response

Sometimes, the greatest danger facing college students is actually themselves.

According to the Jed Foundation, which is dedicated to reducing the number of young adults committing suicide, the act is the second highest cause of death among college students. Suicide attempts are the most life-threatening danger for women in college.

It is no wonder colleges are trying to save themselves from lawsuits and losing students by intervening with suicidal students in any way they see possible.

Many colleges give suicidal students the ultimatum of getting help or leaving the school. Some schools don’t give that option, choosing instead to just suspend the students. While some see this as a logical choice, the students who are being suspended don’t agree.

Jordan Nott was in a psychiatric ward when he received a letter stating that he had been suspended from George Washington University for being a threat to himself and those around him, and if he returned to campus, he would be arrested. He switched schools and is now suing GWU.

The university had the right idea in not letting Nott come back to school till he got better. Yes, killing himself would of course be harmful to himself – but what about the people around him?

“A lot of suicidal people don’t just kill themselves, they also can hurt others, even if it’s unintentionally,” Stetson University professor Peter Lake said to Time magazine.

If he did kill himself, he would be harming everyone around him in an emotional way. Imagine finding a roommate or significant other dead, as was the case with some students did not too long ago when former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy’s son James committed suicide at nearby Campus Lodge. The person who found the body and anyone close to the deceased would have their lives interminably altered by the event. Schools have the right to suspend someone if their behavior disrupts people from learning.

GWU was looking out not only for its reputation when Nott was suspended, but also for his well-being and that of the other students.

It seems colleges and universities face disaster whether they help suicidal students or leave them alone. If a university attempts to protect its student body and the atmosphere on campus by suspending suicidal students and demanding they seek help, lawsuits are brought because the university acted callously and brought further stress upon the students. Yet if a university lets its suicidal students be and provides them no emotional or medical support, lawsuits are brought because the institution simply “let” the students die.

With an average of 1,100 student suicides per year, it is laudable that colleges are trying to prevent them. However, it seems inevitable that where there is a student suicide there will be lawsuit – thankfully, though, a number of schools are showing compassion for students in the face of a litigious society.