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Why does the University not release the cause of death?

A student may die from natural causes, a tragic accident, or by suicide. In the case of a sudden or unexpected death, the cause of death will be confirmed by the coroner. This may take some time. The University is not usually informed of the cause of death by authorities, and the family or next of kin may not wish to provide this information to us.

Should the University be informed of the cause of death, we work hard to honour the wishes of the family or the next of kin by either communicating the cause of death or keeping this information private.

When the cause of death is determined to be suicide, it is important to be careful about how we talk about the cause to minimize the risk of contagion or similar behaviour. The University is guided by the Canadian Psychiatric Association Policy Media Guidelines for Reporting on Suicide. These guidelines refer to the evidence that certain kinds of reporting on suicide may lead to contagion effects.

The University understands why it is important to confront the stigma surrounding mental health and talk
openly about issues like suicide. This discussion needs to occur as part of our ongoing work to address
the mental health concerns of our students.