May 25, 2010

The Story of a Suicide -- An Ombuds' Worst Case Scenario

The University of Washington Daily has a profile of a former UW employee who took his own life in 2008.

It is every Ombuds' fear.

In Soo Chun worked as a custodian on the Seattle campus and frequently bickered with coworkers. His writings revealed mental disorders that manifest as paranoia about supervisors and the institution. His supervisor was unable to mediate a dispute, which eventually grew to involve managers, the UW Ombudsman, the union, other custodians and the human-resources department. Eventually, Chun disengaged and took a vacation. When he did not return to work, he was terminated for job abandonment. After the State denied unemployment benefits, Chun committed suicide in a public plaza in the heart of the campus. (UW Daily.)

Related posts:  University of Iowa Endorses Ombuds Office After Faculty Suicide; Edinboro University Settles Lawsuit Against Ombuds and Other Administrators.

There is no indication that the Ombuds or any of the other programs were negligent per se in this case, but that is little comfort for an outcome that all Ombuds dread.

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