Northern Michigan University Punishes Students For Discussing Suicidal Thoughts With Friends
Northern Michigan University has a suicide policy that is baffling parents and health professionals across the country. The university has a policy stating: "If you involve other students in suicidal or self-destructive thoughts or actions, you will face disciplinary action." This seems quite counter intuitive to professional counselors because the first outlet for people are their close friends. Many people don't seek professional help until they first discuss their thoughts with a someone they trust.
In 2015 Katerina Klawes, a NMU student, sought help from from the university's counseling office. She wanted to talk to a professional about a sexual assault that she was a victim of in July of 2014. After the meeting with the counselor, Katerina received a very troubling email from the associate dean of students for NMU, Mary Brundage. The email included a list of counseling and treatment options available to Katerina, but it also included this statement:
"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."
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education was appalled by this statement when the email containing it went viral. The foundation reached out to NMU to ask them to remove this policy, but NMU declined to respond to their request. As of 2016, a few students have reported receiving a similar statement of punishment for discussing suicidal thoughts.
According to an article by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education: "NMU has failed to publicly commit to ending a practice that the Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ Michigan affiliate has deemed outrageous.”
If you are suffering from mental illness, you don't have to struggle alone. Reach out to a trained professional.