Should NH allow school liability for suicide?

Dec 01, 2017

Earlier this month, the father of an MIT graduate student brought a lawsuit against the school claiming the college was responsible for his son’s death in 2009. Read more about this issue. On November 14, Citizens Count NH decided to put the issue to its Facebook members, posting the question, “Should New Hampshire allow schools to be held liable for a student’s suicide?” 

Should New Hampshire allow schools to be held liable for a student’s suicide?

School Suicide Liability Citizen Voices Chart

Participation: 215 participants gave 319 responses.

A total of 95% of those participating gave a ‘yes or no’ response to the question. The remaining 5% of participants engaged in the discussion but did not give a ‘yes or no’ response. In total, 215 individuals from New Hampshire contributed a total of 319 responses or reactions to this question. (Click here for details on our methodology.)

What Participants Said

No: A strong majority of ‘yes or no’ respondents, at 82%, were against allowing schools to be held liable for a student’s suicide.

  • “No, the only one responsible for a suicide is the one that does the deed.”
  • “As a father who lost a child to suicide I say no. How are the schools to blame?”
  • “My brother ended up taking his own life. I still say no. It's unreasonable to think 50 adults can control the social interactions of every child there. And most bullying now is done out of school.”

Yes: A minority of ‘yes or no’ respondents, at 18%, were in favor of allowing schools to be held liable for a student’s suicide.

  • “If the teachers and guidance counselors knew there was a problem and chose to ignore it, yes, they are accountable.”
  • “If the school is knowingly allowing bulling and doing nothing to stop it then yes, they should. Some teachers are bullies too.”
  • “Yes if they were negligent in some way, in the way that a bar can be held liable for selling too many drinks.”

Other: As noted above, 5% of those participating did not give a ‘yes or no’ response, instead addressing their comments to related questions and issues. These included:  

  • Bullying: “Bullying should be a serious offense punishable by a very large fine, suspension, and a permanent record.”
  • Other liability for suicides: “What about a company?”
  • Mental illness: “I don’t think mental illness is that cut and dry. Many people suffering from severe depression don’t show the typical telltale signs.”

*Editor selection of actual participant quotes.

Read the full Facebook discussion of this question.


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