College Suicide Prevention Trumps Privacy

Cornell seeks signs of student anxiety, brings parents into loop
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 28, 2007 12:15 PM CST
Cornell and other universities are reevaluating the extent to which the privacy of students financially dependent on their parents should be protected.   (Index Stock)
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(Newser) – After the Virginia Tech massacre highlighted the issue of student safety, more colleges began risking legal action by telling parents when their kids suffer from mental health problems, the Wall Street Journal reports. Cornell University, battling a reputation for stressed-out students, is now training staff to seek out and report signs of anxiety. The approach skirts a student privacy law on a technicality.

Based on an Air Force program, the Cornell plan promotes suicide awareness and screens students who visit health services. It also makes house calls to students who are floundering in class. Critics say the plan diverts resources from those with less vexing troubles, which Cornell acknowledges is fair. But a school rep defends the practice, saying parents want "people looking out for" their offspring.