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Athlete's Suicide Blamed on Sorority Hazing in Lawsuit

By Lisa M. Schaffer, Esq. | Last updated on

All suicides are tragic, but especially ones that could have been prevented. Jordan Hankins' may fall into that category. Hankins, a sophomore guard for the Northwestern University women's basketball team, was found hung in her dorm room nearly two years ago. Her mother alleges that Hankins became severely depressed and anxious after severe hazing by the sorority she was pledging, Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA).

She has now filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division against the local chapter and national organization of AKA, as well as nearly a dozen members and former members that were serving as advisors at the time of Hankins' death. Causes of action include negligent supervision, wrongful death, and negligent entrustment.

Hankins Expressed She Feared She Was Becoming Suicidal

Jordan Hankins joined the sorority as a pledge in October 2016. Soon thereafter, she was told to get ready for numerous rituals involving hazing and initiation. By November 2016, the hazing had had begun. According to the lawsuit, Hankins was "subjected to physical abuse including paddling, verbal abuse, mental abuse, financial exploitation, sleep deprivation, items being thrown and dumped on her, and other forms of hazing intended to humiliate and demean her," which affected Hankins physically, mentally, and emotionally. The lawsuit claims she felt ridiculed, embarrassed, and humiliated.

Jordan told sorority members that the hazing was too much, it was triggering her Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and she feared she was becoming suicidal. The hazing didn't let up, and on January 9, 2017, Hankins was dead at the young age of 19.

AKA Has a Strong History of Hazing

Throughout the country, numerous other AKA chapters have been reprimanded for hazing, despite hazing being unlawful by AKA's national organization as well as every school campus where AKA chapters exist. According to the lawsuit, multiple other AKA pledges nationwide have died as the result of such hazing, and therefore given the facts of this situation, Jordan's mother believes her suicide was foreseeable, and yet the sorority negligently pressed on. AKA has been kicked off the Northwestern campus at least until September, and the graduate advisors have surrendered their posts. But none of that will bring Jordan Hankins back. Jordan's mother is suing for unspecified damages.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a hazing incident, contact a local personal injury attorney. An experienced attorney can best listen to the facts of your case and advise you of your legal options, often at little or no upfront cost.

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