The Legal Beat
In Wake Of Law School Student’s Death By Suicide, His Family Establishes Fund For Mental Health Awareness
Posted on Monday July 08, 2019
Last week, University of Buffalo School of Law student Matthew Benedict died by suicide. He jumped to his death from the Liberty Building in downtown Buffalo where he was working as a summer associate at the firm of Rupp Baase Pfalzgraf Cunningham.
As reported by Law.com, according to his mother Anne Benedict, Matthew pursued a career in the legal profession to “do good for the world”:
“Since he’s been a child, he’s loved the law. He’s loved history and writing and he loved the truth. He wanted to do good for the world, he wanted to serve people in some way and he thought this is the way he could do that with the talent he was given,” his mother said about his career path.
His mother also indicated Matthew had been struggling with depression for about five years. She said her son’s struggles with mental health began after he suffered a concussion while playing football at Middlebury College. Matthew’s family said, at least initially, that law school seemed to help with his mental health issues, but that classes coupled with working as a summer associate created a lot of stress for him:
While he suffered from depression before joining law school, his father, William Benedict, said going to law school initially helped guide him on a career path.
But, “over time there was an awful lot of stress” during law school, William said. This summer, Matthew was taking two classes at the law school while working the summer associate position, his family said.
“It became extremely stressful for him,” Anne Benedict said, adding she recalls he was worried about taking and passing the bar exam. He was also worried he was not doing a good enough job at the law firm, his mother said, but she later learned from the firm’s partners he “was doing a stellar job.”
Since Matthew’s death, his family has created Matthew Benedict’s One Last Goal. The fund’s goal is to support athletes that are struggling with mental heath issues.
If you or someone you know is depressed and need help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) or a lawyer assistance program in your state.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, and host of The Jabot podcast. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).