MASSACHUSETTS: Court Says Schools Can Be Liable for Suicides but Clears MIT

May 18, 2018
News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News
State:  Massachusetts

AP News

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that colleges and universities have a legal duty to protect students from suicide in certain cases. According to the ruling, schools must act if they become aware that a student has attempted suicide just before or while enrolled, or has stated plans to attempt suicide. In such instances, schools must take “reasonable measures” to help students, such as carrying out a suicide prevention protocol, connecting the student to medical treatment, or contacting emergency services. However, the court also found that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was not responsible for the 2009 suicide death of a graduate student, who died on campus after a confrontation with a professor. Gary Pavela, a consultant on law and policy issues in higher education, said that the ruling was among the first of its kind. “This will be very newsworthy to colleges around the country,” said Pavela.

Spark Extra! Read the court ruling.

Planning and Implementing:  Policy and Legislation