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Can Parents Sue Colleges for Students' Wrongful Death?

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana. The media has recently raised awareness of suicide on college campuses. Many students report suffering from depression and anxiety, especially during their first years in college. A new environment, new pressures, and new challenges can make symptoms worse. When any young person kills him or herself, family, friends, and communities often wonder whether anything could have been done to prevent it. Some parents, however, believe that their children's colleges have a responsibility to do a better job at preventing student suicides. According to the Daily Pennsylvanian, one mother is suing Penn for her son's suicide, alleging that the school and his coaches should have done more to prevent his suicide. 

At the core of the lawsuit is a question about the privacy rights of young adults, and the right of parents (who are often responsible for paying for these young adults' college bills and medical expenses) to learn about substantial changes to their children's health. Do colleges have a responsibility to tell parents when their children attempt suicide? 

Some families have also taken their lawsuits a step further, pursuing damages for wrongful death from mental health facilities where their loved one sought care. When individuals seek mental health treatment, facilities have a responsibility to properly diagnose whether a person is a risk to themselves or others.

Does the burden change when students are college athletes?

According to the New York Times, college athletes are particularly at risk of anxiety and depression. The pressures of performing at the college level, the highly-televised nature of some sporting events, and the combined stress of maintaining good grades and staying fit can be overwhelming. In addition to the stress, football players may be at added risk because blows to the head can result in mood changes, depression, and other difficulties. In fact, when young athletes kill themselves, the early signs of C.T.E. are often discovered in their brains. C.T.E. is linked to aggression, memory problems, and depression.

When college athletes receive the support and help they need, they can thrive. However, in college athletics, the focus is sometimes placed on an athlete's physical health. Fortunately, some universities and colleges are taking note and are providing college athletes with additional help to manage stress, anxiety, and depression.

Have you lost a loved one due to suicide? Do you have a child or loved one who suffers from depression? Help is out there. Individuals who are struggling with suicidal thoughts can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Families who have lost a loved one and who believe that their child's school could have taken better action sometimes choose to seek justice to raise awareness of mental illness issues. 

The Bowling Law Firm are wrongful death attorneys in Baton Rouge, Louisiana who work with families in the aftermath of tragedy and accidents. You and your family may have important rights under the law. Visit us at the Bowling Law Firm to learn more. 

The Bowling Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation 

1615 Poydras Street, Suite 1050 

New Orleans, Louisiana, 70112 

Phone: 504-613-4561 

Toll Free: 877-757-3539

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