Copyright (c) 2002 Stetson University College of Law
Stetson Law Review
ARTICLE: THE EMERGING CRISIS OF COLLEGE STUDENT SUICIDE: LAW AND POLICY RESPONSES TO SERIOUS FORMS OF SELFINFLICTED INJURY
32 Stetson L. Rev. 125
Peter Lake * Nancy Tribbensee **
The number-one student risk factor in the minds of most college administrators now is alcohol use, and to a certain extent, the use of other drugs. Alcohol has been a risk factor in a number of prominent student deaths, including the untimely death of Scott Krueger at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). 1 Alcohol is heavily associated with secondary risks, such as sexual assault and student riots over changes in alcohol policies. 2 High-risk alcohol use is also a major factor in self-inflicted injury. The Authors anticipate that in the near term, however, attention paid to suicide and other serious forms of self-inflicted injury will continue to increase and that these concerns may begin to gain prominence. 3
Suicide and self-inflicted violence are already enormous social problems in traditional college-aged populations. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), suicide was the eighth-leading cause of death in the general population in 1997. 4 More disturbingly, in that same year suicide was the third leading cause of death in individuals fifteen to twentyfour years old. 5 The rates of suicide among young people have been increasing dramatically. 6 The research indicates that the number of students coming to campus with mental-health issues will continue to increase. 7 Disturbingly, many students have been medicated throughout their K-12 education and may require similar treatment in college to remain emotionally and physically stable. 8
The American legal system has been reluctant to hold institutions liable for suicide or self-inflicted injury. Traditionally, ...
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