Race and sexuality 'spaces' will not prevent suicide

Columbia University appears to be underwriting irresponsible, unscientific, and prejudicial methods in response to the problem of student suicide.  By offering politics instead of professional care to depressed students, Columbia may be exposed to wrongful death liability.

On April 7, Tucker Carlson interviewed Columbia University Student Affairs co-chair Sean Ryan, who explained why student councils at Columbia recently voted to put several rooms in the student union under the exclusive control of "LGBTQ" students and "students of color."  Mr. Ryan explained, "Taking care of our LGBTQ students and students of color and figuring out better ways to do that is always on the minds of student leadership. ... We've been having a lot of issues around suicide and mental health and isolation."  Mr. Ryan repeatedly made it clear that the spaces were allocated for the purpose of suicide prevention, "data driven" by student suicide statistics.  He explained that the rooms were allocated because of "heightened risk of mental health crises faced by marginalized communities. Sixty-three percent of the students who have died by suicide since the year 2000 have been students of color, and two LBGT students, openly LGBT students, have died by suicide at Columbia in the past three years."

Mr. Ryan offered the malapropism "isolationism can lead to suicide."  Carlson asked him about the fairness of the policy (Would such set-asides be given to white students?), and Mr. Ryan again identified suicide prevention as the purpose, "[g]iven the data that we have around suicide."  When Carlson accused Ryan of speaking imprecisely about the relationship between "isolationism" and suicide, Ryan lectured him: "I can't think of anything more real than suicide, Tucker.  You don't think isolationism causes suicide?"

Carlson then questioned the assumption about suicide being caused by "marginalization," and Ryan earnestly explained, "Somebody who is closeted gay and, you know, feels harm in their community because of that, not in the Columbia community, but maybe at home – to come together with somebody who is openly gay and share experiences and feel more comfortable..."

The redemption narrative of helping out-of-the-closet students did not prevent the suicides of the openly LGBT students Mr. Ryan had just referenced.

What typically happens in de facto social clubs is that a dominant clique takes over.  Nevertheless, let's examine Sean Ryan's assumptions about suicide, starting with the "of color" data.  Most universities apply the federal classification of six categories of race and ethnicity: white, black, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian/Alaskan, and Pacific Islander.  Luckily for such as Elizabeth Warren, the Ivies do not require genetic testing.  That means that any student as fair-cheeked and flaxen-haired as the senator can be registered as "of color."  The term is objectively meaningless and cannot support reliable data about suicide.

But Sean Ryan's elucidation of suicide prevention focuses exclusivity on LGBT, not race.  So here are just two fallacies he accepts as gospel, which might further endanger the life of a student suffering suicidal ideation at Columbia University.

1. LGBT people constitute a monolithic support system.  Mr. Ryan does not mention if there is an age limit to using the sexuality space.  Are graduate students permitted?  We assume that nontraditional undergraduates such as older adults would be.  But would a 40-something lesbian in women's studies be the softest shoulder for, let's say, a bipolar depressed cross-dressing boy facing the lifespan implications of "male-to-female" transsexuality?

2. LGBT people are "marginalized," and "marginalization" causes depression and suicide in that "community."  For the last twenty years, the normalization, promotion, and advancement of special rights for maybe 3% of the population, misnamed LGBT, has been a pounding sledgehammer in education, media, government and culture, beating the American brain into viewpoint submission.  If the "LGBT community" at Columbia University has not escaped the margins by now, it never will.

High rates of depression and suicide among LGBT people are not caused by "marginalization." On the deepest level, they are caused by a mismatch between the elements of mind and body.  Souls who experience a longing of the heart inharmonious with the natural design of the body are inevitably vulnerable to doubt and even despair.  That vulnerability, like any spiritual and moral challenge, is made more difficult by being involuntarily lumped in to a political victim group.

The tragic paradox of suicide at Ivy League universities (comprising that the most gifted young people just embarking upon the brightest futures take their own lives) has been studied for decades, long before an obsession with sexuality all but demolished intellectuality, rationality, and common sense among elites.

It is unconscionable that in 2017, Columbia University sanctions faddish, unscientific remedies to prevent such tragedies.

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