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Recently Nadia KLajouji an eighteen year old first year student's body was found alongside the Rideau River. It seems that she was a troubled young women who was depressed and receiving counseling at Carlton University.

The family is angry that the school didn't alert them of their daughter's plight. Nadia was a gifted a average student in high school who wanted to be a lawyer.

Perhaps the increased academic pressure, living away from home in residence and a recent breakup with her boyfriend played a part in her death.

The school administration feels that they did the best they could under the circumstances. The student support service workers would only contact the parents about health related issues if they were given permission by Nadia.

If the girl had broken her leg falling down the stairs on her way to class her folks would have been called. When psychological problems occur care givers/counselors choose the mantle of confidential of the client as paramount.

It is always a judgement call when to call for help with troubled youth. Nadia recognized that she was having trouble coping and went through the process of obtaining an interview and asking for help. She even went on line to chat with a women who allegedly advised her to commit suicide.

In my many years of working with thousands of youth I am proud that I never ever lost a client to the dreaded word suicide. I vividly remember one of my gifted grade twelve students, 'John' who came to my office at Saunder's Secondary School the last day before the Christmas holiday break. He wanted to extend season greetings to me and my family.

I asked 'John' what his plans were for the holidays. He told me that he was contemplating taking his life because his young boyfriend had shunned his advances.

What do you do with the role of confidentiality vs getting help was my dilemma. I advised 'John' that we needed to get him some help. At first he refused any idea of informing anyone of his intentions. Because he trusted me to keep all of our past conversations confidential he wanted me act in a similar priestly like manner.

I told 'John' that when a student crosses the line to do harm unto himself or others it was my duty to do all in my power to help. I gave him the choice of calling his father who I had worked with or his mother or both his parents to come in as soon as possible for an interview. They were his parents who brought him into the world and no matter what his difficulties they would be there for him.

After some deliberation he agreed to have me call his folks. His dad left his school to pick up his wife and made their way over to my office. John told his folks of his dilemma of wanting to end his dismal life vs having to endure the pain of facing an uncertain future. Mom and dad embraced their son and drove him home promising to listen and help.

That very same evening 'John' and his parents made their way over to the London Health Center Emergency department. They were seen by the resident psychiatrist and admitted for observation.

I could not leave a troubled youth over the holidays to be in possible harms way over a question of confidentiality.

As a counselor I take on the role as a just judicious parent. I didn't want to see the London Free Press headlines that another young man had taken his life.

So you want to know what happened? 'John' completed his education at Saunder's and made his way to Waterloo University and graduated in Engineering. I shiver at the thought of what might have happened if I didn't call his folks.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com