"Ithaca is Gorges": Cornell University Student Suicides

As noted in a previous entry MIT & the Suicide of Elizabeth Shin (April, 2000), suicide is the second leading cause of death among students of university age. The number one cause of suicide for college student suicides is untreated depression.

The tragedy of loss may be compounded by the university's administration failure to effectively identify and help students who are or may be depressed and in need, and the parent's unknowing ignorance of their child's desperation.

Six Cornell students have taken their lives this academic year, three since mid-February. The three recent suicides jumped from bridges high over Fall Creek, which runs through a narrow gorge.

University officials have erected barricades on three bridges that Cornell owns, and have asked the City of Ithaca for permission to do the same on city owned structures over the gorges.

In addition, security guards have been stationed on all the bridges crossing over the gorges.

Reportedly, Cornell has consulted experts, both local and national to aid in the prevention of student suicides. All colleges should have a suicide prevention program. Unfortunately, many do not, or the one they have is inadequate.

The lack of a concerted program of depression identification and treatment and suicide prevention may expose colleges and universities to liability for wrongful death.