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Mass. SJC Rules Colleges Have Duty To Try To Prevent Student Suicides In Certain Cases

This article is more than 4 years old.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was not negligent, and therefore not responsible, for a graduate student's suicide.

That's according to a ruling from the state's Supreme Judicial Court, in a wrongful death suit filed by the student's family.

Twenty-five-year-old Han Nguyen killed himself in June 2009, immediately after a professor scolded him for an e-mail faculty members considered out of line.

The SJC ruled that even though Nguyen's professors knew he was seeking mental health treatment off-campus and was struggling academically, they did not know he was at imminent risk of suicide.

But the high court says colleges and universities have a duty to try to prevent a student's suicide if the student has expressed intent to kill himself or herself or recently attempted suicide.

Dr. Victor Schwartz is medical director of the JED Foundation, which helps colleges develop suicide prevention programs. He told WBUR' All Things Considered host Lisa Mullins the SJC ruling seems sensible.

This segment aired on May 7, 2018.


Lynn Jolicoeur Twitter Producer/Reporter
Lynn Jolicoeur is the field producer for WBUR's All Things Considered. She also reports for the station's various local news broadcasts.


Lisa Mullins Twitter Host, All Things Considered
Lisa Mullins is the voice of WBUR’s All Things Considered. She anchors the program, conducts interviews and reports from the field.



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