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School counselor sued after high school student commits suicide

Anyone who seeks guidance from a counselor likely expects a certain amount of privacy. This expectation is designed to result in a safe environment, encouraging those meeting with the counselor to discuss whatever may concern them at the time.

In many cases, this is true of school counselor's as well. But what if a student is expressing suicidal thoughts? Should the school counselor reach out to the parents and let them know that their child is considering ending his or her life?

This is the question in a current case out of Virginia.

What happened in Virginia?

In this specific case, The Washington Post reports that the counselor is accused of both negligence and failing to follow school guidelines that require counselors to notify parents if a student expresses suicidal thoughts.

The case stems back weeks before the tragic death, when a friend from Colorado reached out to the young man's guidance counselor. She told the counselor that she was concerned for her friend, who had been expressing suicidal thoughts. The counselor states that when he spoke with the young man he denied the claims and requested that the counselor not inform his parents. Since the young man was eighteen, the counselor contends that keeping the information from his parents was his right.

What can school employees and parents of students learn from this case?

This case provides a reality check for school employees and families with children who attend school as well. Students face a high level of stress. From the stress they put on themselves to succeed to the stress they may face from their peers if subject to bullying or harassment. These situations can lead to tragic accidents.

In the event of an accident, legal recourse may be pursued. Whether you are a teacher or other school employee facing such charges or the parent of a student who was injured, it is wise to seek legal counsel to help better ensure your legal rights are protected.

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