Following a lawsuit over a campus suicide, experts talk prevention
- A mother of a former William Paterson University student has filed a lawsuit against the university, alleging its mishandling of a rape claim filed by her daughter led to her suicide in 2015.
- In an interview with Education Dive, Drs. Laurie Berdahl and Brian D. Johnson described institutional systems of counseling service, a culture of empathy, and training on how to identify warning signs of suicide as the most effective ways to prevent campus tragedy.
- "Contrary to common belief, asking someone [if they're considering suicide] can’t put the idea into their heads, and suicidal people are often relieved when they are asked because then their problems are out in the open and they have people to talk to," the husband-and-wife pair told Education Dive via email.
Berdahl and Johnson said, "Educational institutions greatly benefit their staff and students by having on-site counseling services and protocols for emergency mental health triage. Facilitating a culture of caring, where other students are encouraged to reach out to others in distress, and providing resources such 24-hour help lines are also vital."
Along with the ramifications suicide can have on institutional morale, recruitment and public relations, institutions should take stock in using their space and platform as an example of how communities can embrace concepts of mental health wellness and treatment. In most communities, campuses are the most diverse, population concentrated areas of affluence and innovation for miles. Mental health awareness and sharing the importance of the same is an ideal way for colleges to use student activism, research and a social bully pulpit to deliver messages about the importance of this area of well being.