This U of T Student Says He Was Kicked Out of Residence After a Suicide Attempt

by michaelbertucci on November 1, 2015 - 7:09pm


In Canada, suicide is the second greatest cause of death for people aged 15 to 24. James Rodriguez planned to commit suicide in his first year as an English and Drama student at the the University of Toronto. He was found in Queens Park in Downtown Toronto and was then hospitalized for a few days before going back to his residency at his university.  James Rodriguez says that once he arrived to his residence, he was called upon by the dean of students and was asked to leave the school. He was told he would be able to return in the following semester, but only with a recommendation from a psychiatrist. The dean had apparently told him that he was a danger to himself and his peers in the school, and therefore should even consider taking a year off studying in order to get better. Rodriguez even spoke back to the dean, telling him how unprofessional it was to kick someone out of school simply because that person had gone through an extremely traumatic event. The dean replied to James by saying that the students in the school had also been traumatized by his attempt of suicide. This shocking answer left James Rodriguez with no hope, and he was forced to leave and find a new place to live. He ended up being on a waiting list for a program under the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE).  The program offered counselling by psychology graduates under the supervision of a licensed psychologist, but the program had no room for James. Apparently the program would not have been good for him anyway, since he would be speaking to graduates who were not yet professionals. Rodriguez has been on plenty of waiting lists for private mental health professionals as the Ontario Health Insurance plan (OHIP) does not cover mental health services. Most Canadian health insurance plans provide people with a maximum of one thousand dollars per year which is not enough for weekly therapy. There was a similar case at the university with a girl named Erin Hodgson who was also asked to leave for attempting to commit suicide. She ended pursuing a degree in advanced studies in special needs and now works for an organization that addresses mental health issues. Moreover, Blake Robert was expelled from Acadia University due to her mental health issues.

I think this is a perfect example of non-effective mental health issues. The situation shows that the system is not working, there are still institutions that do not understand what having a mental health issue is. If they did understand, they would have no problem accommodating students with mental health issues, because they pose no threat to any of their peers. Therefore, there should be mental health services available for students in all schools, such as psychiatrists and psychologists. Universities, and all other known institutions, have a duty to accommodate people with mental health issues, whether their providing housing or not, accommodations are a necessity.  With the high cost of regularly seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist, people are bound to avoid it. That is why if there were health professionals in universities and other institutions, problems like James Rodriguez's would no longer occur. Free help should be available in schools for people who seek it. It is very difficult to get an appointment with a mental health professional, or a spot in a mental health program. People end up on waiting lists, most of which take forever to be first in line for a position, and often resulting in a call back saying that there will be no room and to try again next year. The fact that it is so hard to get professional help makes people give up on themselves and stop trying, and this is not helping the cause. There should be way more awareness of the problems associated with mental health, I find it very odd that a student with such an issue would be asked to leave a school.