By Amy E. Feldman
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – In 2012, a freshman at Princeton University made what he described as an impulsive suicide attempt by taking 20 prescription antidepressants, then immediately walked to the student health center for help. While he was recuperating, Princeton barred him from campus and told him to withdraw voluntarily or he would be involuntarily withdrawn for missing classes. He has sued and it’s a lawsuit that colleges across the country are watching carefully to determine what a college’s responsibility is – both to a student with mental health issues and to others on campus with him.
To determine whether a student poses a direct threat and meets eligibility requirements, the University has to perform a five-step legal analysis considering the imminence, likelihood, nature, severity and duration of the threat, but that’s obviously a subjective standard and while colleges know how to handle intellectual and physical disabilities, their legal obligations with regard to mental disabilities will be clarified by this case.
For now, as kids go off to college, the important lesson is that if your child is facing mental health issues, tell him to get medical help first.
Legal guidance, which will be on its way as this case concludes, will be secondary.