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Few issues in higher education are attracting as much attention as the legal, professional, and ethical duties owed to college students at risk of suicide.
Gary Pavela, a Fellow of the National Association of College and University Attorneys, and 2005 winner of NASPA's "Contribution to Literature and Research" award, explores the topic from a law and policy perspective, providing a comprehensive overview of pertinent case law, federal regulatory rulings, and "best practices" in suicide prevention adopted by colleges and universities nationwide.
Issues are explored in a question and answer format, accompanied by detailed notes and supplementary commentary. One of seven appendices is reproduced here: Appendix D. It illustrates the unique blend of legal insight and policy analysis found throughout the book.
Table of Contents
How common is suicide among teenagers and young adults?
National data about suicide rates and rates of depression. Comparison of suicide rates between young adults attending and not attending college.
Can suicide be predicted?
American Psychiatric Association Practice Guideline standards. Impulsive nature of most suicides. Risk factors for suicide. Dangers of misusing risk assessment scales.
Is there a legal duty to prevent suicide?
Current law and trends. Standard of care set by Supreme Court of Iowa in Jain v. Iowa. Implications of Shin v. MIT.
What are risks for college mental health professionals?
The expanding duty of care for mental health professionals treating outpatients. Imperative of a fully documented risk assessment. Dangers of abandonment, negligent referral, and fragmented care.
Should colleges notify parents of students at risk of suicide?
FERPA requirements and exceptions. Benefits of partnering with parents. Parents and fragmented care. Confidentiality, parental notification, and the obligations of mental health professionals.
Should colleges withdraw students who threaten or attempt suicide?
Educational, ethical, and legal considerations. Hazards of automatic dismissal policies. OCR requirement for "direct threat analysis." Campus environments, human connection, and limited access to firearms are protective elements in suicide prevention.
Have any programs shown consistent success in reducing college student suicide?
Overview of the rationale, design, and results of the University of Illinois suicide prevention program.
What are "best practices" in staff training and educational programming?
The United States Air Force model. Fostering a campus-wide commitment to suicide prevention. Reducing the stigma of seeking professional help. Depression screening programs and online resources.
What should be done after a suicide occurs?
Guidelines and checklist, including suggested responses to next of kin and first responders.
What is role of college/university legal counsel?
Differentiating between assessing risk and deciding what risks to take. Understanding the role of lawyers as counselors.
APPENDICES & SUPPLEMENTARY COMMENTARY
Student suicide: A case study
OCR letter rulings
Two competing views on the duty of care
Training module: Advice to resident life staff members
University of Illinois suicide prevention program
The Air Force suicide prevention program
Suicide and school violence: A reflection on the Columbine Report
Questions and Answers on College Student Suicide -- A
Chronicle of Higher Education Interview with Gary Pavela.
See at: http://chronicle.com/free/v52/i37/37a03901.htm
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