Friday, March 10, 2006

Washington Post on College Suicide Policies

See this interesting article, which begins:

About 2 a.m. one sleepless night, sophomore Jordan Nott checked himself into George Washington University Hospital.

He was depressed, he said, and thinking about suicide.

Within a day and a half of arriving there, he got a letter from a GWU administrator saying his "endangering behavior" violated the code of student conduct. He faced possible suspension and expulsion from school, the letter said, unless he withdrew and deferred the charges while he got treatment.

In the meantime, he was barred from campus.

"It was like a stab in the back," he said. He felt they were telling him, "We're going to wipe our hands clean of you."

His response has college administrators around the country taking notice: Nott sued the university and individuals involved. The school violated federal law protecting Americans with disabilities, the complaint argues. The law covers mental as well as physical impairments.

In essence, it says the school betrayed him by sharing confidential treatment information and suspending him just when he most needed help.

In some ways, this looks like the issue in Echazabal -- can an entity discriminate on the grounds that the individual with a disability is a threat to himself? -- but doesn't this look a lot more like a college washing its hands of a problem? They don't want the liability if he kills himself while a student, so they kick him out? That might reduce their risk of liability, but does it aid or harm suicide prevention?


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