A 1985 study by Fox found that belief in the suicide rule was very common across campuses, but—like most urban legends—the details varied according to the qualifying conditions and the nature of the condolence compensation (e.g., an upgraded dorm room or getting to take the rest of the semester off). While universities may provide bereavement counseling or other services for students whose roommate has committed suicide, there is in fact no suicide rule anywhere concerning one’s GPA or dorm room.
Although this relatively modern rumor that emerged in the mid-1970s, its popularity has resulted in Hollywood turning it into not one, but two wittily-titled 1998 movies, Dead Man on Campus and Dead Man’s Curve.
|Dead Man on Campus (dir. Alan Cohn, Paramount Pictures) and Dead Man's Curve (a.k.a. The Curve, dir. Dan Rosen, Mount Royal Entertainment) are both inspired by the urban legend of the Suicide Rule.|
I just find it, y'know, really, really hard to concentrate because of all the horrors, y' know, we perceived. It just really gets inside your brain and, uh...in college they have this thing where if your roommate kills himself, like if you come home and find him hanging in the closet or whatever, it's basically an automatic A for you.
The Billionth Monkey offers versions of two of these rumors: the automatic A, and the upgraded dorm room.
For Further Reading
Anonymous. “Grade Expectations.” Snopes.com, June 9, 2011.
Jan Harold Brunvand. Curses! Broiled Again! New York: W. W. Norton, 1989, 295–8.
Jan Harold Brunvand. Encyclopedia of Urban Legends. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2001, 426.
William S. Fox. “The Roommate’s Suicide and the 4.0.” In Gillian Bennett and Paul Smith (eds.), A Nest of Vipers. Sheffield: University of Sheffield Press, 1990, 69–76.
Leo Reisberg. “Hollywood Discovers an Apocryphal Legend.” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 11, 1998.