Although the case was settled before trial, it, along with other recent suicides and lawsuits, seems to have made schools very nervous. Many of them are now responding to suicidal thoughts in students by either suspending any student who expresses them or forcing the student to choose between psychiatric treatment or expulsion. Some schools, such as New York University, revamped the medical questionnaire they send to the entering freshman class to include questions about psychiatric history.
As a consequence, a rash of lawsuits have cropped up, brought by students who claim that they are being discriminated against for being mentally ill. Including questions about psychiatric history on medical questionnaires could cause serious problems for the school if they either expel the student in the future with the knowledge that he or she was protected under the ADA, or get sued by the parents of a child who committed suicide because they didn't reach out the the student and provide mental health services. Many schools are floundering around in terms of deciding how to respond to students with emotional or mental illness issues.
What can parents do?
Since most colleges consider students adults, as they indeed are after the age of 18, parents may find it difficult to get any information about their child's treatment directly from the college. Schools consider it a violation of the child's privacy, and this is supported by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. However, some schools are becoming more flexible in the wake of the Shin case. It might be possible to have your child sign a waiver that will allow the school to contact you if they are concerned about your child's welfare.
It's also important to know what the school's policy on students who express suicidal thoughts is. Will your child be expelled or forced into treatment if they confide in a counselor? Or does the school make a commitment to helping the student stay in school and get counseling or treatment?