Experts in College Counseling Discuss Suicide Prevention

Cody Porcoro

Written by
on October 31, 2017

The suicide of a Sophmore undergraduate student prompted a legal investigation into her medical history and whether the school psychologist had followed proper suicide prevention procedure. Though she had no past mental illnesses and was physically healthy, the student had been placed on Effexor, an anti-depressant, and had called the university suicide hotline to speak with a school psychologist. She mentioned all her issues and stated she was beginning to feel suicidal. The psychologist asked her if she would be able to ‘hold off’ and not hurt herself until the psychologist could see her the following morning. The student was found dead the next day, and the ensuing court case against the psychologist sought expertise in counseling suicidal college students to better understand whether the tragedy was preventable.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Do you have experience as a psychologist working with or treating suicidal college students?
  • 2. Are you familiar with the proper steps to be taken when a student indicates suicidal tendencies?
  • 3. Should a psychologists only action be to ask a student to hold off on committing suicide?

Expert Witness Response E-044965

I have experience as a psychologist working with college students, since approximately half of the patients at the clinic I direct are college students. I have seen and treated suicidal students, as suicidal behavior is my clinical subspecialty. I am very familiar with the proper steps that should be taken as soon as student indicates suicidal tendencies, which should be more than asking a student to hold off on committing suicide. Rigorous safety planning is the thing that should have been done in the case, and it appears it was not done or certainly not done sufficiently.

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