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New depression treatment: eviction from school.
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Dogen



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
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Location: Bellingham, WA

PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 1:56 am    Post subject: New depression treatment: eviction from school. Reply with quote

Long, but interesting... what responsibility, if any, does a school have to support depressed students? Is sending them home the answer? Is there an answer?
MSNBC wrote:
NEW YORK - A depressed Hunter College student who swallowed handfuls of Tylenol, then saved her own life by calling 911, was in for a surprise when she returned to her dorm room after the ordeal. The lock had been changed on the door.

She was being expelled from the residence, the school informed her, because she violated her housing contract by attempting suicide. The 19-year-old was allowed to retrieve her belongings in the presence of a security guard.

Policies barring potentially suicidal students from campus dorms have popped up across the country in recent years as colleges have struggled to decide how to best curb an estimated 1,100 suicides a year.

But just as quickly, some of those rules have come under attack.

Hunter College announced last week that it was abandoning its 3-year-old suicide policy as part of a legal settlement with the student, who sued claiming her 2004 ouster from the dorms violated federal law protecting disabled people from discrimination.

The school, part of the City University of New York system, also agreed to pay her $65,000.

Hunter spokeswoman Meredith Halpern said the college may still consider temporary removal from residence halls a future option for troubled students, but such evictions will no longer be automatic.

Will policy scare students from getting help?

Karen Bower, a senior attorney with the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, which helped litigate the case, said she hoped the settlement would prompt other schools to rethink their policies.

"The real danger of these policies is that they discourage students from getting the help that they really need," Bower said.

Young students might be scared away from speaking out about suicidal thoughts if they believed it would mean an abrupt eviction, she said.

Similar lawsuits are already in the works.

George Washington University is being sued by a former student who was barred from campus and threatened with expulsion after checking himself in to a hospital for depression.

The student, Jordan Nott, said he never tried to kill himself, but had been thinking about it because of the suicide death of a close friend, also a George Washington student.

The Bazelon Center is also representing a student at a Connecticut boarding school who was placed on a mandatory leave after seeking treatment for depression.

Role of colleges
Schools and the courts have grappled with the issue of depressed students for years.

The prevailing legal theory had long been that adult students were responsible for their own behavior, but that philosophy was undermined by a pair of court rulings involving the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Ferrum College in Virginia.

In both cases, judges ruled prior to out-of-court settlements that colleges might have a duty to prevent suicide if the risk was foreseeable. The cases prompted some schools to be more aggressive about sending troubled pupils home.

George Washington University spokeswoman Tracy Schario said the school's treatment of Nott wasn't an attempt to limit legal liability.

"The intention was to protect a life," she said.

She added that Nott's case was an unusual one. More than 200 students seek help for depression or suicidal thoughts each year at George Washington, and a majority are not asked to leave.

"It is always a case-by-case assessment of what is best for that particular student," Schario said.

She acknowledged, however, that the university's current practice of using its disciplinary system to handle some students with psychological problems "does appear insensitive" and said alternate procedures were being considered.

Joanna Locke of the Jed Foundation, a program aimed at preventing college suicides, said schools should have enough flexibility in their mandatory-leave policies to allow for individual circumstances.

'No right answer'
Some schools, she said, may feel a need to send a student home if they lack the resources to offer help, or if their behavior has become disruptive.

"There is no right answer, except that (the decision) should be made carefully, and the decision should be made kindly," she said.

Colleges may wind up in court no matter which approach they take.

A jury in Pennsylvania decided Thursday that Allegheny College was not liable for the 2002 suicide of a student who was allowed to stay in class for years while he battled severe depression.

Lawyers for the parents of Charles Mahoney, 20, said the school should have contacted his family and put him on a mandatory leave of absence.

The jury also cleared a college counselor and consulting psychiatrist of any liability in the death.

Allegheny said in a written statement after the verdict that the case was "a tragedy for all involved."

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Xilonen



Joined: 11 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 3:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

it's hard to assess where the liability should stand, but when was the last time you heard of parents being held liable for not recognizing the fragile mental state of their child after a suicide?

it seems more like parents want someone else to blame when they aren't there to keep watch, and while policies of suspending or dismissing students who pose a risk to themself might in some cases be beneficial to students, school psychiatry, like psychaitry in general, is something that is sought out in most cases, so students in danger or those close to them are the ones ultimately responsible for seeking help. it's unrealistic to imagine that even small private schools are going to be able to recognize potential psychiatric symptoms in all students who need help, and it's just silly to try and hold them responsible.
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trustedfaith



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 3:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks like they're still trying to figure out who is responsible if the student tries to commit or commits suicide. Is it the student or does the school have some responsibility for the student as well?

I don't think that immediately expelling a student is the answer, obviously, since telling a student they're no longer enrolled in their university might not be the needed kicker to get them out of a depression.

And a lot of students tend to get depressed over the pressures and overwhelming feelings of college life. I think being allowed to 'take a break' might help with that as long as it's not met with consequences for trying to take care of their mental health.

I don't know. In general, colleges try to protect their students from death, rape, etc -- I don't see why they can't include 'depression' in that. And what I mean is, setting up programs like suicide hotlines, adequate amounts of counselors that are easily reachable (ie don't need to wait a month to see them), etc. Maybe even some sort of peer to peer program would be good. This, with the ability to take a break should you feel too overwhelmed, would help out the students more.

But if you were to ask me who's responsible for the student, the student or the college, I'm going to say the student. They're an adult. They are are responsible for themselves. However, it's the college's responsibility to accomodate the needs of their students. That's where the grey area begins.
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Xilonen



Joined: 11 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 3:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

agreed - any efforts the school makes to protect the students are welcome in my mind, and very appreciated, but that still doesn't excuse the student from the responsibility of seeking help.
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nathan



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 3:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Schools should hold no serious liability, per Xilo, but neither should they suspend individuals who are meeting their academic and financial obligations. There is no place here for institutional interference. It's personal.


Hell, you don't see me chasing after potential infantry soldiers and trying to chain them to gay bars.
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trustedfaith



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 3:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Xilonen wrote:
agreed - any efforts the school makes to protect the students are welcome in my mind, and very appreciated, but that still doesn't excuse the student from the responsibility of seeking help.


I agree, if you're of sound mind and know that you need to seek help for your depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues -- then you are responsible for that.

If you're not of sound mind, that is a grey area. I don't think you are responsible for yourself any longer if that's the case. However, I don't think the responsibility gets shoved off onto the college either.

If you have a family member who no longer is of sound mind, you take legal action to have someone be responsible for them and make decisions for them (e.g. power of attorney, etc). This should still be the case, should there be family available to do so for the student.
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WheelsOfConfusion



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 3:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I somebody suffering from severe depression to the point that they think the world will be better off without them really of sound mind, though? And what good is the eviction going to do, anyway?
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trustedfaith



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 3:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

WheelsOfConfusion wrote:
I somebody suffering from severe depression to the point that they think the world will be better off without them really of sound mind, though? And what good is the eviction going to do, anyway?


That's what psychiatrists and psychologists are for. They usually are the ones to decide whether or not someone is of sound mind or not. If you think your family member needs help for a mental issue and they refuse to go, you can legally go ask a judge to order them to be seen by a hospital to determine if they need help or not (e.g. if they're of sound mind or not).

I had to do this for my brother who is bi-polar and was refusing to get help, and needed to get help ASAP.
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Dogen



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 4:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

WheelsOfConfusion wrote:
And what good is the eviction going to do, anyway?

That was my major question... how does getting kicked out of school help anyone get over depression? I understand the legal reason (since, apparently, people are sueing), but I can't really think of some way to spin this as being in the best interest of the student.

I also don't understand how anyone could logically expect a school to be intimately aware of the mental state of its students. Individual teachers may or may not get to know some of their students but to hold the school responsible for something that is often kept very private to begin with seems ludicrous.
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WheelsOfConfusion



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 4:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ludicrosity has never stopped a lawsuit from being filed.
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Dusty



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 8:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

yeah there are some really retarded policies out there. Like the one thats not letting me take statistics.

what i dont understand is their loose definitions, sure she took a bunch of pills, but who says thats attempted suicide? wouldn't that fall into another category (as the article mentions) like disability?
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Monkey Mcdermott



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 9:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wolfing down a bottle of asprin will shut down your liver chief. The warning is right on the bottle.
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Sam



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 10:25 am    Post subject: lol, suicidal susie! suicidal susie! Reply with quote

Quote:
She was being expelled from the residence, the school informed her, because she violated her housing contract by attempting suicide. The 19-year-old was allowed to retrieve her belongings in the presence of a security guard.


That sounds so progressive and helpful and not at all a bad idea. Maybe they should also arrest her, or at the very least just point at her and laugh a whole bunch.
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Samsally



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

trustedfaith wrote:
That's what psychiatrists and psychologists are for. They usually are the ones to decide whether or not someone is of sound mind or not.


Who are they to know? Someone who studies it in a text book and graduates with an expencive degree? That doesn't convince me.
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andrew



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2006 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dogen wrote:
WheelsOfConfusion wrote:
And what good is the eviction going to do, anyway?

That was my major question... how does getting kicked out of school help anyone get over depression? I understand the legal reason (since, apparently, people are sueing), but I can't really think of some way to spin this as being in the best interest of the student.

I also don't understand how anyone could logically expect a school to be intimately aware of the mental state of its students. Individual teachers may or may not get to know some of their students but to hold the school responsible for something that is often kept very private to begin with seems ludicrous.


The only answer I can come up with is "so their name isn't associated with a high number of suicides," e.g. Cornell.

Just attempts. ^_^
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