FIRE Attacks Northern Michigan University's Shocking, Wanton Rule Against Students Sharing Suicidal Thoughts

I've written about some pretty outrageous cases of university censorship, like Bergen Community College's idiotic crusade against Game of Thrones t-shirts or University of Wisconsin-Stout's imbecilic response to Firefly references. The Foundation for Individual Rights In Education — FIRE, the boogeyman of Alternet writers and the professionally offended — has played a major role in vindicating rights in many of those cases.

But I've never seen a FIRE case that outraged me more.

Northern Michigan University had — and perhaps still has — a policy subjecting students to discipline if they share suicidal thoughts with their peers. And they've threatened to use it.

After seeking counseling following a sexual assault, NMU student Katerina Klawes received one of these emails in March 2015, informing her that it was “important that [she] refrain from discussing these issues with other students.” An administrator clarified to Klawes in a subsequent email that she “cannot discuss with other students suicidal or self-destructive thoughts or actions.”

Words are inadequate to convey how wrong-headed, reckless, and cruel this is. FIRE's letter explains why it's a First Amendment travesty. But more compellingly than that, it's a human travesty, a sick elevation of student management over survival. As I've talked about before, reaching out to someone — anyone — can be the difference between life and death for someone suffering from severe depression. Threatening a student with discipline if they utter a cry for help to peers — who may be the only ones with whom the student feels a connection — could fatally suppress that crucial plea for help.

I'm more of a consumer of mental health expertise than a provider, so to express what a terrible idea this is I reached out to a high school classmate, Dr. Mendel Feldsher, a frighteningly well-qualified psychiatrist and clinical professor of psychiatry. Part of Mendel's work since 2002 (along with forensic and expert work) has been counselling college students at the Claremont Colleges. Here's how he put it:

A policy which prohibits college students from communicating their suicidal or self-harming thoughts with their peers promotes isolation and disconnectedness which increases the risk for suicide. The simple act of disclosing ones suicidal thinking to a friend can itself be quite therapeutic and can interrupt the crescendo of depressive cognitions which can lead a student to act on suicidal thinking. Communication with a friend is frequently the pivotal first step toward seeking help, and many students may be more willing to initially share their feelings with a friend than with a school official or therapist. Threatening disciplinary action for student to student communication regarding suicidal thinking sends the clear message, “You are an unacceptable burden to others” which is a harmful message, particularly to a student who is depressed and suicidal. The increasing prevalence of anxiety, depression, and suicidality in college students calls for increasing access to mental health services, not adding to stigma with a policy which promotes increased shame for the depressed and suicidal student. I have treated many depressed and suicidal students who would not have come to my attention but for their decision to reach out to a peer who urged them to seek treatment. I have never treated a student whose primary issue was the trauma they suffered as a result of a peer’s self-disclosure regarding their self-harm or suicidal thoughts.

This is a shockingly bad, inhumane policy. Let's hope FIRE's letter inspires NMU to renounce it quickly, clearly, and unequivocally. Even if they do, I am appalled that college administrators thought that this was a sensible or acceptable policy, and I question their suitability to work with students.

Jesse Singal has a post about this as well.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

Comments

  1. Loren says

    How is it that our institutions of higher education seem to be run almost exclusively by persons incapable of exercising common sense and with no concept of the Bill of Rights?

  2. VPDN says

    NMU is currently "seeking public comments that address the quality of NMU or its academic programs" as part of its accreditation review. Perhaps this might be reasonably be used as an opportunity for concerned citizens to pressure NMU to voluntarily reconsider its disgusting and wrongheaded policies (instead of being forced to do so by a lengthy court process while untold damage could continue being done in the meantime)?

    http://www.nmu.edu/mc/news-releases?articleID=173836
    http://www.hlcommission.org/HLC-Institutions/third-party-comment.html

  3. Daniel Weber says

    I'd call this a perfect combination of STUPID and EVIL, except STUPID would think this is too stupid and EVIL would think this is too evil.

    What crazy logic even started this in the minds of NMU administrators?

  4. says

    Someone is responsible. Sure, there was a committee of vapid, toothy do-gooders but someone finally said "go with it". I would like to know who that idiot is. Specifically, by name and title. I would also like to know who said idiot reports to. It seems to me that this is the moral equivalent to body cams on cops. When we KNOW who is responsible and they KNOW that the world will know perhaps, just perhaps they will stop being so damn helpful. Then we can shame them. Cool.

    It is irritating though, isn't it?

  5. Daniel Martin says

    Note: I briefly discuss cutting below.

    So, the internet is vast and if you look for it you will find people who are seriously and unabashedly pro-anorexia. It would not surprise me if you were able to find people who were pro-cutting, and maybe you can even find people who are pro-suicide. After all, "just go kill yourself" is a common enough response by those who deny the humanity of anyone suffering from depression or the after-effects of trauma.

    Here is my suspicion, based on no evidence at all but my experience with what assholes 17-22 year olds can be: there was some social circle on campus that got really into self harm and cutting at some point at NMU. Not knowing how to handle it (because some people are incapable of dealing with these sorts of issues *at all*), and because in some situations cutting is a communicable memetic disease (that is, people are more likely to cut if they're around other people who cut), this policy was instituted. Suicide and non-suicidal self harm were lumped together because people without any training or experience with these issues think they're the same thing.

    Now, I think this was obviously the wrong approach, and a better one would involve admitting that the administrators in charge at the time needed outside help from people experienced with dealing with incidences of self harm. But it is in fact possible to explain this policy with a peculiar history and administrative incompetence.

  6. says

    I think that Occam's razor would suggest something a bit less baroque. Though "lumping" does have a certain explanatory appeal.

  7. Daniel Neely says

    Can we charge the entire university maladministration with 7428 counts of attempted murder (one for every student the school has)?

  8. That Anonymous Coward says

    It frightens me to consider how many other policies they have like this.
    It wouldn't shock me to discover that they warn them not to talk about rape or other abuse allegations so they can keep a lid on them.

    This is the mentality of protecting our image is the most important thing.

    Rather than deal with the actual problems, which can be hard to solve, they just say don't talk about it or else. They control the narrative through fear and intimidation, seems like the administration is ripe to be sued & run out of power. Providing help for a suicidal student might make us take a pay cut, so just make them suffer in silence… it'll solve itself. Lets find this braintrust someplace else to work, far away from any responsibility for another human.

  9. aebhel says

    You know, I had the misfortune of dating a guy in college who used suicide threats to steer me around by the nose, and to this day I am… probably not a good person to confide in about this sort of thing because of that. I would, to put it lightly, not handle it well. I imagine I'm exactly the sort of person this Orwellian nightmare of a policy is designed to protect. And as that person, Northern Michigan University can get stuffed. College students are adults who can and should be trusted to manage their own social relationships, and even if they weren't, what kind of nightmare logic do you have to be using to tell suicidal students that they're not allowed to talk to their friends about how they feel?

  10. Viliphied says

    Can we charge the entire university maladministration with 7428 counts of attempted murder (one for every student the school has)?

    Only under RICO.

  11. En Passant says

    Daniel Weber says September 22, 2016 at 1:43 pm:

    What crazy logic even started this in the minds of NMU administrators?

    Jesse Singal's post, linked by Ken above, cites a plausible conjecture by "Victor Schwartz, medical director at the Jed Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting mental health and preventing suicide among college students":

    According to Schwartz, it likely stems from a misunderstanding about how suicide “works.” “I suspect that the school may be trying to address an overly concrete understanding of the notion of contagion in a problematic way,” he said. “They are thinking that students talking to each other about suicidal ideas will lead to the student hearing to be at more risk for suicide — [but] except for extremely rare occurrence of ‘suicide pacts’ (usually young people deciding to die together — think Romeo and Juliet) the idea of people hearing about a suicidal friend leading them to suicide is extraordinarily unlikely.”

    If this is true, then I'd certainly agree that the policy is the perfect combination of stupid and evil.

    It's not unlike what abusive parents sometimes do: beat a child for crying.

  12. Fasolt says

    Just when I thought the depths of collegiate administration stupidity had been plumbed, NMU descends to an even deeper depth with this insane policy. Shame on you, Associate Dean of Students Mary Brundage. I could not in my right mind ask another human being not to reach out to someone when they needed help the most. Shame on everyone else stating and/or enforcing this evil policy.

    Here is Ms. Brundage's first email to Katerina Klawes:

    Our self-destructive policy is currently under review, as stated on top of the
    policy, so it is important that you know a couple of thing [sic]. First, you will not be removed as a student for seeking help from the appropriate resources. You can use any of the resources listed below without worry. Second, Engaging [sic] in any discussion of suicidal or self-destructive thoughts or actions with other students interferes with, or can hinder, their
    pursuit of education and community. It is important that you refrain from discussing these issues with other students and use the appropriate resources listed below. If you involve other students in suicidal or self-destructive thoughts or actions you will face disciplinary action. My hope is that, knowing exactly what could result in discipline, you can avoid putting yourself in that position.

    Ugh. That pisses me off just having to have read that.

    Our self-destructive policy…

    You are at least correct there.

    …any discussion of suicidal or self-destructive thoughts or actions with other students interferes with, or can hinder, their pursuit of education and community.

    Do you actually consider that a rational statement of fact, Ms. Brundage? Do you actually believe this tripe, or do you think that the mere expression of suicidal thoughts to a student by another student hinders their education? How does it so hinder? I do not see how this is possible. Here is an idea. How about replacing the portion of the freshman orientation that includes the you will be punished for reaching out to your fellow students with something like this:

    If a fellow student relates suicidal or self-harming thoughts or actions to you, please encourage them to seek an appropriate campus or off-campus resource to assist them.

    Or something to that effect. Feel free to change the wording.

    I would personally recommend an off-campus professional, given the thoughtfulness and human compassion that went into this wildly stupid and evil NMU policy.

    What might you mean by community? The student community? The greater community? I would like to think that assisting someone in sore need of support would enhance one's sense of community.

    If you involve other students in suicidal or self-destructive thoughts or actions

    If a student involves another student in a suicidal action, then you could make a case for disciplinary action.

    How do you involve someone in your thoughts, Ms. Brundage? Telepathy? Vulcan Mind Meld?

    Perhaps you believe thoughts become things, so if you do not speak the thought, it will not become a thing?

    Pedantic rant follows. How is it that someone in a position of authority at a university, cannot spell correctly or express themselves well?

    Our self-destructive policy is currently under review, as stated on top of the policy, so it is important that you know a couple of thing [sic]. First, you will not be removed as a student for seeking help from the appropriate resources. You can use any of the resources listed below without worry. Second, Engaging [sic] in…

    What a dumpster fire. "On top" should be "at the top". Everything else is self-explanatory. If you read that sentence as, "Our self-destructive policy is currently under review, so it is important that you know a couple of thing(s)", it makes no sense. Why is it important?

    Kudos to you, Ms. Klawes. My response to Ms. Brundage would have been inspired by the letter referenced here authored by James Bailey, and would have read something like this:

    Ms. Brundage, you should be aware that some asshole has hacked your email account and is sending out stupid emails in your name.

  13. Eric Atkinson says

    Goddamn! I'm impressed. That is some weapons grade stupidity. I thought the SWJ's jumped the shark long ago, but now this shit?

  14. Manta says

    The logic behind these decisions seems quite simple: shelteringing students from unpleasant ideas/facts/speech/thoughts.
    The idea that the person you are talking to may suicide is unpleasant, hence the students should protected from it.

    On the other hand, Victor Schwartz's conjecture sounds also quite plausible: protecting *some* students from unpleasant thoughts.

  15. nlp says

    I'm certain that the friends of a student who commits suicide would be relieved that they didn't have to hear him or her say, "I feel like killing myself." It's much, much better for their mental health if they beat themselves up afterward, saying, "I'd have helped if I'd only known."

  16. mcinsand says

    From a practical standpoint, and maybe to give a bit of a logic sledgehammer to use on the University, what are the legal ramifications of silencing cries for help? I would think that this would be a liability lawyer's dream come true. I just looked, and NMU posts an enrollment of 9,000 undergraduates. What are the odds that a few aren't struggling with mental health issues? Is there a realistic probability that a few (dozen?) are not?

    IANAL, but I can't see how the university's policy is not taking on a certain level of legal liability. How can isolating people from vital support not be legally stupid. I wonder if there's any chance that their insurance underwriter knows about this.

    Please don't misunderstand me in thinking that the cold clinical cost is greater than the human cost. No matter what the feelings about high liability settlement sums, they exist because of the high human costs. Sometimes, settlements are tough for me to understand when I have trouble seeing that the defendant has actually taken on liability. I wouldn't have any such struggle in a case like this. If someone lost a family member at NMU when an active support circle might have helped, NMU certainly wouldn't want me on the jury.

  17. C. S. P. Schofield says

    Loren asked; "How is it that our institutions of higher education seem to be run almost exclusively by persons incapable of exercising common sense and with no concept of the Bill of Rights?"

    Our institutions of higher learning have become the home ground of a class of Liberal Intellectual noted for their complete detachment from anything remotely resembling reality. This was going on even in the 1970's, when I lived with my Father (a college Professor) and thus had some connection to the Academic Life, and it has only gotten worse since.

    Now, on top of that, college administration posts generally go to those academics who have the strongest impulse to be busybodies, and the office of Dean of Students typically goes to an especially condescending (and stupid) twit who will treat the students like kindergarten kids instead of young adults.

    Nor is this a new phenomenon; the Universities of 18th century England pulled lot of the same sort of counterproductive paternalistic crap, in the name of Church of England moralism.

    Colleges just naturally attract employees who are unsuited to living and working in the real world, and the very silliest seem to end up in Administration.

  18. John says

    I am a long-time lurker, but this is the first time that I have EVER felt the need to post. This occurred many years ago, before the internet, before personal computers (yes, I am that old).

    I still vividly recall a long and emotionally draining conversation I had with a fellow student who was deeply depressed and while not saying such, I was convinced that he was thinking about suicide. I have taken some training (much later) on how to deal with this situation. I realized that my gut reaction—to listen, be concerned, and encourage him to contact someone who would be better able to help—was the proper approach.

    I also promised him that I would never discuss the conversation with anybody, and I followed that promise. We did talk once or twice later, but never with such agony.

    I discuss this now because a number of years ago I learned that he passed away. But I felt I had helped because he finished his college education and went on into the world.

    THIS is the type of training the students should be receiving. How anybody can condone telling people to hide their suicidal thoughts is just ….. unbelievable …. unthinking …. uncaring.

  19. Castaigne says

    This sort of thing confuses me. Why would you be discussing your psychomedical problems with your peers in the first place? Wouldn't you limit that your designated medical professionals? I mean, one doesn't discuss medical or psychiatric issues with one's co-workers in the office, so I don't see why that wouldn't apply at school (any school) as well.

    It -is- rather silly to have a rule like this for something that one isn't going to do anyway.

  20. rsteinemtz70112 says

    This level of stupidity is criminal.

    When discussing this policy do no one bother to say, "Why don't we ask an expert in this area?"

  21. NotPiffany says

    Castaigne, remember that this university is in the United States, and a significant number of people in the States believe that any sort of mental illness is a weakness and/or something to be ashamed of. A lot of people don't have a psychiatric or psychological professional to turn to as a result, even if they have insurance good enough that they can afford a specialist.

  22. ketchup says

    Castaigne,
    Maybe people in your circle don't discuss medical or mental issues with friends, but there are plenty of people who do, especially college students. Remember, we are talking about the social media generation here. They do not view privacy in the same way older generations do. I have had students tell me 'I won't be in class tomorrow because I'm going to have [insert specific private medical procedure]' in the same tone they would use to tell me they were going home early for Aunt Bee's birthday party.
    Obviously I'm not defending the policy, but if I were an administrator that somehow really did think students talking about mental issues was a bad idea, I would be certain that the little fiends were already talking about it and that THEY MUST BE STOPPED. Of course, I would also know that telling college students not to talk about something is a great way to get them to actually start talking about it. HEY – I've got it – this is actually a brilliant reverse-psychology move on the part of NMU administration to get more students talking about mental issues! Wait . . . I just used "brilliant" and "administration" in the same sentence. Call me a pony and ban my account.

  23. Doug says

    In the comments to the linked Jesse Singal article, there is another link to a revised letter to students. It no longer states that the students would be subject to discipline for sharing any thoughts of self-harm.
    It does NOT clearly state that the policy has changed. Perhaps students would still be subject to discipline. But even in the face of constant examples to the contrary, I'm hopeful that this university may have actually made a positive change.

    Link to new letter – http://www.nmu.edu/mc/current-mental-health-communication

  24. says

    There are a bunch of annoying things taking place here at once. First is the notion held by the "good government" types that people are too stupid to look after their own interests. This is the impulse that causes governments to want to regulate everything from hair braiders to personal trainers to lemonade stands. God forbid that a depressed person reach out to a trusted friend for help; only persons authorized by the administration are officially qualified to help.
    Then, even if the administration was right about the harm that could be caused by "unauthorized" counseling, note that the email didn't stop at just advising Ms. Klawes about the potential danger of seeking help from non sanctioned advisors. Given the totalitarian nature of the persons in charge here, they immediately ban everything that they think is a bad idea.

  25. rsteinmetz70112 says

    Doug,

    The letter disputes the FIRE letter but seems to be saying those claims are no longer correct. But it does not specifically say that students will not be disciplined or that the policy changed. It says that as a result of the "controversy" in November of 2015, they had a bunch of touchy feely meetings and as a result the communication was changed at the beginning of 2016. The letter also does not say it is OK to talk to your friends.

    As far the comment above that people who do not talk to their friends about their health issues, I am one of those, none one needs to know what my urologist, cardiologist or ophthalmologist tell me. However I have over the years had a couple of acquaintances commit suicide and in each case it was very obvious that something was very wrong and it is natural to reach out and try to discover why they were so upset. I am not a professional but think the most common situation for someone about to commit suicide is to exhibit their distress sufficiently that people close to them would notice and inquire.

  26. Total says

    Goddamn! I'm impressed. That is some weapons grade stupidity. I thought the SWJ's jumped the shark long ago, but now this shit?

    What on earth are you talking about? I mean, aside from not even getting your dismissive acronyms right?

  27. Ed says

    …any discussion of suicidal or self-destructive thoughts or actions with other students interferes with, or can hinder, their pursuit of education and community.

    Interesting community you got there. One that is not really a community by any rational definition.

  28. someoneinnorthms says

    (This is how I read that letter to the students)

    To: All you Pussy Students Thinking About Suicide

    From: Dean of Students

    Please save us all the trouble of having to hear your complaints. If you want to kill yourself, just do it already. Leave the rest of us out of it.

  29. Anonymous says

    City University of New York Grad Center, after being sued for denying disability accommodations, instituted a policy that disabled students are subject to being watched & disciplined by their security guards, which I'm sure fixes EVERYTHING.

  30. Anonymous Contributor says

    I sent an e-mail through FIRE to NMU after reading this, and promptly received this reply, presented here without comment:

    "Questions concerning the NMU communication to students with self-harm
    inclinations were raised in November 2015 and the communication was
    changed at the beginning of 2016. Last year¹s campus controversy resulted
    in a collaborative effort and the creation of the Mental Health and
    Well-being Taskforce, comprised of campus mental health professionals,
    student life staff and students. Together they have been working to better
    serve our students, provide better communication and most importantly,
    connect students with the needed resources. In short, the August 2016
    assertions of the FIRE letter are incorrect.

    Changes to the communication were implemented in the beginning of 2016 and
    can be read in full here:
    http://www.nmu.edu/mc/current-mental-health-communication

    Thanks
    Fritz"

  31. princessartemis says

    This isn't the first time I've come across the idea that telling people about one's suicidal thoughts is an unfair burden and thus should not be done. However, in other circumstances, it has been on online forums, where a member posting publicly about such a thing would often consume all the forum's oxygen, while providing little help to the sufferer. Rules on forums about public postings like that make sense; Internet strangers on a forum aren't equipped to help you with any of that and dumping a bunch of emotional baggage on them isn't a well-considered act.

    Taking such a rule and applying it to real face-to-face human relationships is a cruel, twisted absurdity. I can see a number of paths that could have lead to this evil, but I was never cynical enough to think they'd actually go that far.

  32. nlp says

    Castaigne,

    You might misunderstand the conversation about discussing mental health issues. They probably aren't talking about being in a classroom and mentioning being suicidal, but rather a situation where a small group of friends are talking, and one person breaks down and says, "I can't take this anymore. There's so much pain. I'm going to kill myself." Most friends would tell someone to get help, that this is depression, they need a counselor. But at NMU it's enough to get you expelled.

    When I had cancer I told friends on a message board, and received friendship and support from all over the country, including help and support of other people who had undergone the same procedure. It helped enormously. Since then I've offered support and encouragement to others undergoing life-threatening illnesses. And I'm not from the social media generation; I'm a baby boomer. So it's perfectly normal for students to tell friends that they are in unbearable pain. For any physical disease, students would be encouraged to go to a doctor, and friends would ask follow-up questions. For mental illness, silence is forced.

  33. Careless says

    Somewhat OT: when I had a speech issue at Northwestern, I replied in an email "I guess it's time for FIRE"

    Apparently none of the people reading it had heard of the organization and they thought I was threatening arson (in all caps, even!). In retrospect, I probably should have written it differently.

  34. Total says

    And Northwestern's president thinks people who oppose "safe spaces" are "lunatics"

    The fact that they get one thing right doesn't undercut the appalling nature of the policy described in the post.

  35. Marta says

    FIRE's letter to the president of NMU asks for a response by September 9, some three weeks ago. Does anyone know if Erickson (the president) or anyone representing NMU has replied to FIRE's letter yet?

  36. solaric says

    There also seems to be an element of entangled, over-thick bureaucracy at its most enraging worst here as well, "left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing". Unsurprisingly NMU does of course have an entire page of attempts to provide helpful advice on suicidal thoughts on its website. Notably, see number 4 under "Twelve things that YOU can remember and do that will help" (emphasis added):

    4. Reach out to the safest person you can find–an RD, RA, instructor, brother, sister, mother, father, minister, old friend…someone. Let the person know how you're feeling and that you need to talk

    Not simply external authorities but even the college's own professional advisors directly recommend forming a connection to someone close as a key move, including friends. So clearly here there are multiple levels of leadership failure. It's not simply that they somehow lacked anyone internal at the college who could have advised them better, but that they either actively ignored them in favor of pursuing student management or failed to bother to consult them in the first place, either or both of which are repugnant when it's a medical matter where failure could directly result in lethal impacts to students.

    I don't expect there not to be administrators worried about liability or PR or whatever in formulating a policy like this, it's realistic that of course they'll be at the table. But the college's medical professionals absolutely also need to not merely be at the table but to have lead and veto authority. Making a policy of punishment in direct opposition to their counseling advice page points to a deeper malaise amongst the leadership. I can't believe they wouldn't have competent legal advice at the table and I don't see how this would have passed muster with them either, but administration shouldn't have even needed to go that far, medical considerations should have been a show stopper right off.

    @Doug above linked to a possible update but pointed out (along with @rsteinmetz70112 and others) that it seems awfully squishy, not a clear and explicit refutation of previous policy, preferably an apology, and making clear that the medical advise is the set-in-stone policy applying to all administration going forward. I hope they do that sooner rather then later.

  37. Total says

    Uhhh, what did they get right?

    That people who oppose safe spaces are lunatics. I would have said "a substantial number of people who…" but I can understand the phrasing.

    (By the way, that was a whooshing noise you just heard going over your head)

  38. Careless says

    FTR, Total, Northwestern and Northern Michigan University are not the same school.

    Given that there was no policy of Northwestern mentioned in the post, I'd expect some confusion on reading yours.

    And Shapiro is an idiot who would be a better fit at Oberlin, except I just told a trustee at Oberlin about Shapiro's comments and he was appalled.

  39. Total says

    FTR, Total, Northwestern and Northern Michigan University are not the same school.

    Wait, you mean someone made a completely unconnected and ridiculous comment and you're blaming me because I didn't quite catch how ridiculous it was? Good job, you.

    "Berkeley did this bad thing! Yeah, and the UC Davis chancellor is an idiot!" is not argumentation at its finest.

    Also, for fuck's sake, type out "for the record." Turning it into an acronym is the kind of preciousness that goes along with square beards.

  40. Fasolt says

    The NMU response to Anonymous Contributor quoted from Anonymous Contributor's post above:

    "Questions concerning the NMU communication to students with self-harm
    inclinations were raised in November 2015 and the communication was changed at the beginning of 2016. Last year¹s campus controversy resulted in a collaborative effort and the creation of the Mental Health and Well-being Taskforce, comprised of campus mental health professionals, student life staff and students. Together they have been working to better
    serve our students, provide better communication and most importantly, connect students with the needed resources. In short, the August 2016 assertions of the FIRE letter are incorrect.

    Changes to the communication were implemented in the beginning of 2016 and can be read in full here: http://www.nmu.edu/mc/current-mental-health-communication

    Thanks
    Fritz"

    Hmm. I noticed Fritz did not state the policy had been rescinded, only that changes had been made to the communication. I suppose a student finds out the hard way about their removal from NMU after they mention their self-harming thoughts or actions to another student, instead of being warned first.

  41. Careless says

    Total, don't go full retard just because someone politely points out that you're making an ass out of yourself with your poor reading comprehension.

  42. Wzrd1 says

    Unmerciful heavens! What a backward, actual policy of self-destruction!
    It counters all federal advice, all professional advice and moves back a century into shaming the victim of depression into silence!

    Even the US Army got with the program, enabling service members to discuss with one another suicidal ideation and similar self-destructive thoughts, which could then be presented to leaders, chaplains and medical personnel (personally, as medical personnel, I've referred command resistance to the chaplain, who drew thunder from senior ranks – once being the US Army Chaplain General to our Division Commander, who promptly acted).

    Indeed, this is a very sensitive topic this very week, as my wife is a chronic pain patient, recently switched to gabapentin and an antidepressant for neurological pain and she began to experience suicidal ideation. Only our completely honest communication enabled me to know of the issue and, while I initially misidentified the probable offending medication (the specific drugs suspected, one having a higher percentage of issues), alas the condition still ensues, so we'll try to D/C the other medication.
    That said, there's a third medication that could also be helping to cause the issue, morphine sulfate.
    Would that our insurance would spring for a brief inpatient care time, with an entire hospital pharmacy available to address her neurological induced pain and balance medications.
    Alas, we're not in a civilized country, where mental health, physical health and emotional health are considered anything other than mere commodities and hence, luxuries.

    But, were I Emperor for a day, that school would not receive a single federal penny until they move into the 21st century, both in terms of Constitutional rights of students and suicide awareness!
    This is beyond outrageous!

    For the record, I'm far from being known as a SJW. In some very real ways, I was the polar opposite, while supporting the rights of the SJW type.
    As you should find readily apparent, I'm former US military, former SF medic, to be precise. I did a few other things over the decades, but the simple reality of it was, I was involved in killing people for a living.
    I far more enjoyed setting up clinics in remote locations, halting the advance of vaccine preventable diseases, but the reality was always present and apparent.
    So, to horrify me in such an extreme way is astounding!
    It tempts me to visit the campus, trip the originator of this idiotic policy with my cane, then tie his or her shoelaces together.
    Fortunately, I'm resistant to temptation. ;)
    But, seriously, this is a bass ackwards way to misaddress a problem, a very, very serious problem!
    Someone needs to be referred into a new employment position.

  43. OrderoftheQuaff says

    This is a public university. Why hasn't one of the students replied to the Dean's email with "Hey bitch! First Amendment!"

  44. Zem says

    1. How did NMU know Katerina saw a counsellor ?
    2. How did NMU know what Katerina discussed with the counsellor ?

    It would appear that there is more wrong doing by NMU than just being stupidly cruel.

  45. Eric Atkinson says

    @ Total
    Yeah and I hope Satan comes to see you this Christmas
    When right over you small head didn't it?
    Be honest now.

  46. Careless says

    You're a lovely one, aren't you?

    Butthurt because someone responded with accurate insults after you used really stupid and inaccurate insults? check!

    I'd tell you to stop digging, but there might be people here enjoying your humiliation.

  47. Careless says

    But just in case my daughter winds up reading this, some advice: if you write something really, really stupid because you failed reading really badly and go on to realize how stupid it was, STOP DIGGING. Either apologize or slink away

    You don't go full Total.

  48. IForgetMyname says

    I'm pretty preoccupied with Constitutional rights, so it's pretty impressive that this school has achieved such enraging levels of depraved, uncaring stupidity that I completely forget about the First Amendment issue for a while. So congrats to NMU for that.

    Also, congrats to Total. My personal pet peeves have always included people who use disabilities to insult others, and people who use meaningless, externally applied group-labels as an excuse to dismiss people's arguments without having to engage with them seriously. And yet he managed to make me sympathize with the guy who used "SJW" and the guy who used the phrase "going full retard" unironically, and view them as the (relatively speaking) reasonable guys in the conservation.

  49. Dictatortot says

    For all the talk about the legal problems that NMU has opened itself to, I suspect that this policy was a depraved (and stupid) attempt to evade legal liabilities. I can just see an administrator reasoning that if a student voices suicidal thoughts and then kills himself, the family’s lawyers could then ask, "he talked about it; people knew: why didn’t the university prevent it?" But if a student just up and commits suicide without warning … why, the university was blindsided and totally in the clear!

    Thumbless bureaucratic solution: keep them from talking about it, and the school has deniability.

  50. I Was Anonymous says

    @Total and @Careless

    That's my fault for bringing in the unrelated topic…. I should have phrased it better (as in, "And on a similar note…" or something like that).

    Mea culpa, and I hope you forgive me.

  51. says

    To be fair to the University, FIRE was specifically complaining about the communication to students. So it's not totally unreasonable for the University to responds by changing the communication. The policy was already under legal review and not being enforced.

    To continue to be fair to the University — if you have a policy that's not being enforced and under legal review, why the heck would you notify people that they have to comply with the policy?! That's still weapons grade stupidity.

    "You cannot discuss with other students suicidal or self-destructive thoughts or actions. It is a very specific limitation." — What kind of person could write something that inhuman?

  52. Canuckerstanman says

    @Zem, Indeed. I'd be curious what the APA might say if they were told a therapist was violating confidentiality with such results.

  53. nlp says

    NMU has offered some clarification regarding its policy. (The Facebook page for NMU is actually rather funny, because every time the administration offers a pretty picture of a dorm room or classroom students respond with comments about how you had better keep your dorm room full of smily faces and keep the depression hidden).

    http://www.nmu.edu/mc/mental-health-communication-students-faculty-staff

    They offer a rather convoluted explanation for their earlier policy, but they have clearly backed off from threats of expulsion for telling your friends you want to kill yourself.

  54. Castaigne says

    @nlp:

    You might misunderstand the conversation about discussing mental health issues. They probably aren't talking about being in a classroom and mentioning being suicidal, but rather a situation where a small group of friends are talking, and one person breaks down and says, "I can't take this anymore. There's so much pain. I'm going to kill myself."

    Nope, apparently I'm understanding correctly. No flaw there.
    In such a situation, were I that person, I couldn't imagine making such an outburst; suicide would be preferable. And if I were the recipeient, I'd be horrified and…exceedingly uncomfortable at what I can only describe as the loss of face.

    So it's perfectly normal for students to tell friends that they are in unbearable pain. For any physical disease, students would be encouraged to go to a doctor, and friends would ask follow-up questions. For mental illness, silence is forced.

    I….can only say I have a different set. You don't even talk about physical illness in my family; it's just not done. Goes politely unmentioned.

    I'm just not going to understand this one.

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