Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Involuntary Leave

Nothing sounds good about that. But imagine being depressed and suicidal. Imagine reaching out to help from your college, sometimes having to use the strongest language necessary to get attention. And then this is what you face.

I was listening to NPR yesterday, and I heard this story. You see, college campuses are a bit jumpy. Students sometimes commit suicide or become homocidal. And they don't know what to do about it.

So some schools have begun simply suspending students who express suicidal ideation.

Now let's be clear. It is rare that someone who is suicidal is also going to muster the energy to be homocidal. And those people who are homocidal don't often tell their parents or their counselors that they feel like commiting suicide.

In fact, people who want help for not going there, will ask for it. They will often tell people that they feel like they want to die.

In the case of the young man on NPR yesterday, after reaching out (and having his parents activate the unsatisfactory mental health system that exists in our culture), he was sent a letter saying he had violated the college's code of conduct. Let's repeat that: by telling someone (reaching out for help to his parents who then turned to the school for help), he violated their code of conduct.


And what message does this send to the next depressed student who starts feeling this way? How will they struggle with the desire to get help and be taken seriously, and the pressure and desire to stay in school?

And imagine the effect that getting kicked out of school can have on mood. Depression already makes it hard for you to have hope or expect that things will work out and this is just a reinforcement and a confirmation of these ideas.

It sucks and it is wrong. It feels like just another way that our mental health systems are completely fucked up.


Crnk Mnky said...

The story reminded me of the time I wrote to my guidance counselor about school frustrations. I mentioned the word "suicide" (dunno why) and she insisted on telling my parents (likely without context). Guess how many times my dad has flung that back in my face when I f__k up in college?

ANYWAY, this policy pissed me off. I worry that this suicidal-homicidal kid the colleges fear would simply hide the illness to avoid suspension... and so would many other students.

There are plenty of comments on NPR's website too.

Cody Bones said...

Now that is a HELL of a story

Hyde said...

That's crazy. I was a suicidal-ish mess in college. Kind of glad I dealt with it outside the school system. But then, what's the point of having mental health services for students if they can't use them without fear of repercussions???


Aravis said...

It seems illegal to me... discrimination.

That's just crap!