Kent State offers help for suicidal students

Kelli Koch

At two colleges, two students have fought against policies expelling them from residence halls for mental health issues.

Kent State’s policy instead makes students seek help from Psychological Services before taking any other steps.

A student at Hunter College swallowed handfuls of Tylenol but then called 911 to save her own life, The Associated Press reported Sept. 1. When she returned to campus, the lock to her dorm room had been changed. She was expelled from her residence for violating her housing contract by attempting suicide.

The student filed a lawsuit claiming the expulsion violated federal law protecting disabled people from discrimination. As part of a settlement, Hunter College has abolished its suicide policy and agreed to pay her $65,000.

The AP article also reported Hunter College was not the only university with this policy. George Washington University is currently in a lawsuit with a student who was expelled from his residence hall after checking himself into a hospital for depression.

Kent State doesn’t have a suicide policy, but there are procedures that have to be followed if a student attempts suicide.

Amy Quillin, associate director of residence services, said if a student attempts suicide in the dorm, he or she is immediately transported to Robinson Memorial Hospital and the Coleman Center to be evaluated.

Before the student can return to the residence halls, he or she must be evaluated and released by Psychological Services at the DeWeese Health Center.

“Psychological Services must give the OK that the student is able to live in the halls,” Quillin said.

Psychological Services’ decision is based on the welfare of the student, and if they feel it’s not best met by living in the halls, the student will be asked to leave the dorms, Quillin said.

If the student refuses to be evaluated by Psychological Services, disciplinary procedures will be followed. Quillin said the situation would have to reach a pretty significant level before the student would be evicted.

Jenny Hulsmann, senior special education major, said she agrees with the procedures Kent State follows because it gives the students the help they need.

“Kent gives students a chance to explain themselves for what they did,” Hulsmann said. “It gives them a second chance. They can get the help that they need but were afraid to ask for.”

Stephanie Schwartz, sophomore fashion merchandising major, said she likes the Hunter College policy because those students should be at home with their families getting help.

“If they are depressed enough to attempt suicide, they shouldn’t be living on their own in a dorm,” Schwartz said.

Michael Moore, the assistant director of the Psychological Clinic, said he can’t see a scenario where a policy like Hunter College’s would be a good idea.

“It’s an unfortunate policy,” Moore said. “Students already have hardship without adding the stress of eviction.”

With the risk of getting evicted from their residence halls, students are less likely to get help, Moore said.

Students can get free help on campus at the Psychological Clinic. Moore said its waiting list is running about one to two weeks. Students can also go to Psychological Services at the DeWeese Health Center.

Students need to be aware of the warning signs, Moore said. Depression is one of the biggest signs, and one that’s usually overlooked is drug and alcohol use. He said people usually laugh off what others say when they are intoxicated, but what they’re expressing is very real, and they should be encouraged to talk to someone.

Moore said the three major warning signs are:

• Expressing suicidal ideation

• Having a real concrete plan

• Having means to implement their plan

If anyone has considered one out of the three, he or she should seek help. If more have been considered, serious action needs to be taken.

Contact student life reporter Kelli Koch at [email protected].