No Agreement On When Colleges Should Call Parents When Their Kids May Be Suicidal

The AP (12/30, Pope) in a story appearing on at least 17 news websites reports, “The issue of when colleges should notify parents their adult children may be suicidal remains fraught with legal, medical and ethical dilemmas. College policies, state laws and professional codes of conduct vary widely – and occasionally conflict.”

A “2010 survey of counseling directors found that when a client was considered a ‘suicidal risk’ but didn’t meet the state-law criteria for involuntary hospitalization, 41 percent wouldn’t notify anyone else without a signed release from the student” and “only 13 percent said they would notify family; 22 percent said they would notify a superior, and 19 percent said it would depend on the situation.”

However, Carolyn Wolf, a mental health lawyer who advises college officials, said, “I’m in favor of notifying parents” and “advises parents to remember that FERPA, the federal education privacy law, has clear exceptions for risks to health and safety, as do state laws.”

Related Links:

— “Colleges and suicide threats: when to call home?

Read more:,” Justin Pope, Sioux City Journal, December 29, 2011.

Posted in In The News.