LOGAN, Utah – A Utah State University student said she was threatened with eviction after expressing suicidal thoughts to her roommates. A similar thing happened last fall to a student living in an Orem apartment complex, and that has mental health experts concerned.
Olivia Larsen, 22, was living at Oakridge Student Apartment, an off-campus housing complex in Logan not contracted with the university.
The apartment’s management company, Triton Investments, strongly denied Larsen was asked to leave because of her mental health crisis. In a statement, they told KSL, “Oakridge has never evicted or asked a resident to leave due to mental illness.”
But Olivia and her father, Tim Larsen, said whether or not it was a formal eviction, the message was clear.
“I remember asking them, ‘Well, are you evicting her?’ and the lady that I was speaking with to the best of my recollection, said something like, ‘Well, we can do it formally or we can do it informally, but she needs to leave,’” Tim Larsen said.
He said he tried twice more to get clarification.
“So, then I asked a third time, ‘I said, so let me understand exactly what you’re telling me. You’re telling me that she’s not welcome back at the apartment complex?’ And I believe the lady said, ‘Yes, that’s right,’” he said.
“When I was 18, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder,” Olivia Larsen said. “When I’m depressed, I feel worthless,” she explained. “And it feels like it will never end.”
Larsen said she reached an all-time low in January. In early February, she sought help.
“I could feel the depression getting worse, and worse, and worse. I knew that suicidal thoughts were on the horizon and I wanted to get ahead of that,” she said.
That’s when she asked a roommate for help.
“I said, ‘I’m having harmful thoughts, will you please take me to the ER?’” Larsen said.
Her roommate agreed, but the hospital chose not to admit Larsen, and she went home. The next morning Larsen drove herself back to the hospital, but again was not admitted. She stayed with her family for several days in Ogden before eventually being admitted to McKay-Dee Hospital on Feb. 12.
Three days later, Larsen said her father got a call from Triton Investments.
“And told him that I was not welcome at Oakridge, that I had to leave and that they would never rent to me again,” Larsen recalled.
Tim Larsen said Triton referenced this part of the rental agreement: “Resident agrees that the conduct of Resident, his guests or other occupants shall not be disorderly, boisterous or unlawful and shall not disturb the rights, comfort or convenience of other persons.”
“That’s the part they said she had violated – that she had violated the comfort and the convenience of her roommates,” he said. “They explained to me that it was all due to the discomforts that Livy’s actions caused for her roommates.”
The Larsens did not receive a formal letter of eviction, but Tim Larsen believes the message was the same.
“I don’t see a difference from my perspective. She was not allowed to be at the apartment, so if that’s not eviction, and they use some other term for it – to me, it’s the same result,” he said. “I can’t describe it in any other way than she was asked to leave.”
Olivia Larsen said the news only exacerbated her anxiety. She said she was dizzy and felt like she couldn’t breathe. “It felt like this giant wave just knocked me down,” she said. “You feel isolated and alone and this just made me feel like I had no one.”
Larsen’s story was shocking to Taryn Hiatt, Utah area director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
“I just cried. I just thought, how heartbreaking to be in that space, to…
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