Ms Meyer was 21 when she died, and at the time was being punished for allegedly throwing hot coffee on a university football player who was accused of sexually assaulting her teammate, who was a minor.
According to ESPN, her parents’ lawsuit blames the university for "negligently and recklessly" sending the student a formal disciplinary motion containing "threatening language regarding sanctions and potential ‘removal from the university.’"
USA Today reports that the disicplinary action put her diploma on hold for three months while also threatening not only her position as the captain of the women’s soccer team but also her ability to continue attending the university.
Her parents claim that on 28 February they video-chatted with Ms Meyer, who they described as being in a good mood. The family discussed her upcoming spring break plans and tried to coordinate an upcoming trip to southern California and Mexico.
The university’s letter informing Ms Meyer that she would have to attend a disciplinary hearing concerning the coffee incident was delivered later the same day. The letter arrived to her dorm room around 7pm, which was after the university’s on-campus psychiatric services facilities were closed.
“Katie, sitting alone in her dorm room, when it was dark outside, immediately responded to the email expressing how ‘shocked and distraught’ she was over being charged and threatened with removal from the university,’’ the complaint says. “Stanford failed to respond to Katie’s expression of distress, instead ignored it and scheduled a meeting for 3 days later via email. Stanford employees made no effort whatsoever to check on Katie’s well-being, either by a simple phone call or in-person welfare check.’’
The next day, Ms Meyer was found dead in her dorm room. On 3 March, autopsy results confirmed she died as a result of suicide.
"Stanford’s after-hours disciplinary charge, and the reckless nature and manner of submission to Katie, caused Katie to suffer an acute stress reaction that impulsively led to her suicide,’’ the lawsuit states. "Katie’s suicide was completed without planning and solely in response to the shocking and deeply distressing information she received from Stanford while alone in her room without any support or resources.’’
University spokesperson Dee Mostofi issued a media statement rejecting the allegations on the school’s behalf.
"The Stanford community continues to grieve Katie’s tragic death and we sympathise with her family for the unimaginable pain that Katie’s passing has caused them," she wrote. "However, we strongly disagree with any assertion that the university is responsible for her death. While we have not seen the formal complaint brought by the Meyer family, we are aware of some of the allegations made in the filing, which are false and misleading."
If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Helpline is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.