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Massachusetts High Court Provides Guidance on Responding to Suicidal Students

05/09/2018

In Ngyuen v. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, SJC-12329 (May 7, 2018), the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court found that MIT was not liable to the estate of a former graduate student who had committed suicide moments after his professor had called him to “read [him] the riot act” and otherwise provide him guidance about repairing his relationships with his coworkers during a summer research project. The court explained that the general rule was, “that there is no duty to prevent another from committing suicide.” Slip Op. at 21. But that “a university has a special relationship with a student and a corresponding duty to take reasonable measures to prevent his or her suicide ... where a university has actual knowledge of a student’s suicide attempt that occurred while enrolled at the university or recently before matriculation, or of a student’s stated plans or intentions to commit suicide.” Slip Op. at 29.

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