Firm wins Changes in VA TECH suicide policy, scholarship in remembrance of Daniel Kim

(November 18, 2011 — Fairfax, VA). Virginia Tech University has agreed to revise policies and protocols regarding parental notification of potentially suicidal students as a result of a lawsuit brought by partner Gary Mims over the suicide death of student Daniel Kim of Reston.

In addition, a $100,000 scholarship in the 20-year old Kim’s name will be endowed in perpetuity by the University. Also, a plaque will be mounted at the school in the boy’s honor.

In 2007, Kim became despondent following the April shootings on campus that killed 30 including the shooter and upon his return in the fall of 2007 to begin his senior year, Kim stopped attending classes. In late November, the school received an email message from a friend of Kim reporting details of Kim’s plan to commit suicide, including that Kim was unsuccessful at several previous attempts and that this time he had purchased a gun and would succeed.

The University originally claimed in a CNN report that the school had acted appropriately and had taken steps to protect Daniel Kim. Mims demonstrated to the defense team that the University had failed to follow its published protocols for investigating a suicide threat, did not have Daniel seen by the psychologist as required and that no University official ever contacted Daniel’s parents. Daniel’s father asked, “Why didn’t anyone tell me?”

The lawsuit settlement requires the University to amend its protocols to require parental notification when there is a threat of suicide–unless, there is a compelling reason that parents should not be notified, in which case, the school must document the reason for not providing parental notification.