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Yale Sued for Allegedly Removing Depressed Student to Avoid Negative Publicity

Yale Sued for Allegedly Removing Depressed Student to Avoid Negative Publicity

“alleging that she was involuntarily held for treatment and eventually removed from campus”

The student claims she was removed from campus due to worries about bad press over student suicides.

FOX News reports:

Yale University sued for allegedly removing depressed student to avoid negative press

A Yale grad is suing the Ivy League institution, alleging that she was involuntarily held for treatment and eventually removed from campus after seeking counseling for depression because administrators wanted to avoid further damaging publicity following two student suicides.

A lawsuit filed in a New Jersey federal court on Nov. 5 details the allegation made by a woman, identified only as Z.P., that the school violated her constitutional rights and unlawfully held her for treatment at Yale-New Haven Hospital before placing her on mandatory medical leave during her senior year, The Yale Daily News reported.

According to court documents, Z.P. spoke to her religious adviser in November 2016 and shared that she was upset that the school had returned to relative normalcy quickly after two students committed suicide earlier that month.

She was advised to seek counseling, during which she was then told to admit herself to the hospital, The News reported.

The student followed the recommendations but, according to court documents, she was not made aware that after admitting herself, she could be involuntarily held. She also claims that hospital staff illegally gave her medical information to Yale officials — something she says led to her being placed on medical leave.


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I’ve counseled potentially suicidal students, and it’s both emotionally difficult and legally a minefield. Trying to get the student into proper psychiatric care can run afoul of all kinds of privacy laws.

Notifying the parents also violates privacy laws. Not notifying the parents that their kid is suicidal provokes lawsuits. Befriending and counseling a suicidal student opens you to all kinds of charges that you didn’t do enough or you didn’t do exactly the right things.

This has become such a legal minefield that colleges and their staff are hesitant to become involved with potentially suicidal students. They want to shove them into psychiatric care (which many of them refuse) or out the door. In the current legal situation, staff are more likely to pretend that they never knew the kid was suicidal.

We need some “Good Samaritan” laws that say that a person or the school isn’t liable if they do the best they possibly can to help a suicidal person. We also need laws that say that privacy laws do not apply when trying to get medical or parental help for a suicidal person.

Here are some examples of just one school (MIT) and its lawsuits involving suicidal students:

    geoih in reply to OldProf2. | November 19, 2018 at 7:18 am

    The education system at all levels has done its best to inject itself as “parents” into the lives of all children. Complaints as to how complicated such a strategy is draw little sympathy from me.

      MajorWood in reply to geoih. | November 21, 2018 at 12:28 pm

      My two years of doing overnights 3X a week on the national suicide hotline were pretty illuminating. For one thing, I learned that “out there” is actually much further away than I had imagined. Assessment is difficult even in person, and relying on verbal statements and verbal inflection takes it to a whole new level. So one is put in a position of under-reacting to a real problem and over-reacting to a minor issue, and it is usually these two which lead to lawsuits. We operated with a policy of “wrong answer,” and the second we got a wrong answer to a question, the intervention process went forward to completion. Otherwise, one ends up negotiatating with a terrorist, so to speak. Doug Adams summed it up best, “don’t panic.” “Caller reports” probably began the sentences in over half of my notes, lest they ever enter the judicial system. And I really learned the meaning of assuming facts not in evidence. We covered Oregon primarily and took overflow calls from Washington and Idaho. I averaged maybe one intervention every two months, and by best estimates I was 8/12 in that area. There is no greater relief than hearing “we got it” from a different voice on the line.

      When I heard this on the radio, I literally had to pull over because it was too real and took me back to nearly an exact call that I had taken.


While it is not the primary and probably not even the secondary causes, the influence of the trial lawyers lobby is likely to be a contributor. I believe they have been among the top two contributors to every Democratic presidential campaign for the last couple decades.

It’s remarkable how in loco parentis—the bugbear that college students of my generation and those just before and after—fought, sometimes bitterly, to get rid of has now come roaring back into force. It is even more remarkable that today’s student radicals keep demanding more and more of it. Is this their admission that present-day college students have turned out to be incapable of living and governing their lives independently of university administrations?

If so, privacy laws including the withholding of medical records from parents should go next: parents need to protect their children.

Or is it that student radicals, like so many younger rebellious adolescents, simply demand whatever the grown-ups don’t want or offer, and reject whatever grown-ups do want or offer? If this be the case, whatever they demand should be ignored by university administrations, because they will never be satisfied anyhow. They shouldn’t be allowed to have it both ways, and they should be forced to confront the bitter truth that their actions may have unintended consequences.

    healthguyfsu in reply to HarvardPhD. | November 20, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    “Is this their admission that present-day college students have turned out to be incapable of living and governing their lives independently of university administrations?”

    Unequivocally yes. I have received many a panicked email that is clearly an act of a child-like college student that thinks acting in such manner will get them their way.

Of course, “parents” can include university administrators, as well as or instead of legal parents.