Suicide try won’t force hall eviction

Jackelyn Severin

Jackelyn Severin

Hunter College of New York City evicted a student from the residence halls for attempted suicide in 2004, according to an Associated Press article in September.

The student called 911 after overdosing on Tylenol. Following her recovery, the 19-year-old returned to her room to find that her lock had been changed. According to Hunter College, the student breached her housing contract by attempting to commit suicide.

The report said that other schools in the United States have also implemented policies that keep suicidal students from entering residential halls.

But some of SDSU’s students said Hunter College was out of line.

“It was probably more disruptive to change her living situation than to not let her go back,” said Heather Youngberg.

Kyra Anderson agrees.

“Students should be allowed to live their normal life after trying to commit suicide.”

Paul Honermann said the college should have taken more action to help the student instead of barring her from the dorms.

“The school should have been more compassionate,” Honermann said.

Fortunately, SDSU has a different approach to college suicide. Doug Wermedal, assistant dean of Student Affairs, said SDSU does not have any rules that force students to leave the dorms if they are suicidal.

“The notion that there is a one-size-fits-all policy is ludicrous. Every situation is different,” Wermedal said.

SDSU works with the student and his or her family to decide what is the best solution for the student. Many students cannot deal with the pressures of school while having suicidal thoughts but some students find that it is more helpful to stay in school and live life as normal.

“A person who needs long term extended care can still be a student while at school. Students are amazingly strong,” Wermedal said.

Darci Nichols, staff counselor at SDSU, agrees that returning to normal activities can be helpful to students that have attempted to commit suicide.

“Each case brings forth a different set of circumstances, however, it can be healing to resume classes once symptoms have resolved and emotional stability has returned,” she said.

Nichols also said that it is important for friends and family members to offer emotional support to students after an attempted suicide.

“This involves understanding, patience, affection and encouragement,” she said.

She suggests engaging the student in conversation and activities. If you are met with opposition than “be gently insistent” and tell the student that he or she will feel better with help and time.

Even though South Dakota has a very different atmosphere from New York City, SDSU students are still susceptible to suicidal thoughts. Stress of school, loss of high-school friends and exposure to drugs and alcohol are just a few reasons that students commit suicide.

“When the stress becomes unmanageable, students may be looking for a way out of what feels hopeless to them,” said Nichols.

Statistics show that suicide rates are highest for college students between the ages of 18 and 21. Also, more females attempt suicide while more males accomplish suicide.

If you are thinking about hurting or killing yourself, find help immediately. Make sure to tell a close friend, academic or resident advisor or a member of the staff at Student Health and Counseling Services. The number for student counseling services is 688-6146. If you know of someone who is suicidal, the best possible action to take is to help him or her get counseling at Student Health or another professional counseling service. You may need to accompany them to the office or call a counselor and schedule and appointment for them.

You can find other information about suicide on the web at or, or on the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).