Archive for July, 2015

More White Collar Workers at Risk of Suicide – The “VIP.”

Over the past 18-months, there have been reports of a dozen cases involving suicide of white-collar workers who were employed by high profile financial firms at the time of their death. Overall, rates of death by suicide are generally lower among those with attained higher levels of education. However, depression can affect anyone no matter what his or her education levels and income bracket. Often, it is more difficult to recognize or respond to signs of suicidal ideation in those who appear, on paper, to have it all. This can make it more difficult to spot and prevent suicide risks among white collar workers and people in privileged positions.

money-under-the-mouse-1-710597-mMental health counselors should know of all signs of suicide in all patients, including those with good jobs and advanced levels of education—the so called VIP patient. When a mental health professional misses signs of suicidal behavior and death by suicide occurs, a suicide attorney should be consulted by surviving family members for assistance. The death of a white collar professional can have serious financial reverberations on family financial stability and mental health professionals should provide compensation to dependents if the negligence of mental health professionals played a role in causing the death by suicide. If clinicians are not familiar with the VIP risk factor, they need to get familiar ASAP.

Why are More White Collar Workers at Risk of Death by Suicide?

Market Watch discussed the recent spate of suicides among financial professionals and considered why suicide rates are rising among white collar workers. Studies have demonstrated doctors, dentists, financial workers, veterinarians, lawyers, and engineers are among the professions with suicide rates at least 1.5 times the suicide rates among the rest of the population .  Physicians have a suicide rate 1.87 times higher than the rest of the population, and dentists have a suicide rate 1.67 times higher than average. A part of this may be explained by easier access to dangerous pharmaceuticals that could be used in a suicide attempt.

Workers within these and other white collar professions may feel significant amount of career pressure. Many of the professions are highly competitive and workers within certain fields may have a particularly negative response to stress or to a crisis. While there has not been a clearly-established causal link between work pressure and higher risks of suicide for white collar professionals, it is possible the high levels of stress coupled with the intensive work environment are a contributing factor to more white collar workers taking their lives.  Careers that are all-consuming may also isolate workers from family and friends, thus increasing the risk of death by suicide.

A spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated the increased rate of suicide among individuals in these higher-profile and higher-paying careers is something which should be researched further. If a causal link is discovered between certain careers and an added risk of death by suicide, more actions can be taken to protect workers within that field.

Suicide Lawyer Weighs in on Problems at Vermont Mental Health Facility

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Jul 2015
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National suicide malpractice attorney Skip Simpson says problems highlighted in news reports about Rutland Medical Health Services in Montpelier, Vermont, serve as a reminder that facilities around the country must take all steps to ensure the safety of patients – and now!

“Until there is a culture of safety instead of a culture of making a profit at the expense of safety nothing will change,” said Simpson.

Simpson commented on a July 11 Associated Press story published in the Rutland Herald and other publications (“Lawmakers hear of problems at Rutland Mental Health”). According to the article, Rutland Mental Health Services may close because of a pattern of deficiencies. These include improper use of restraints and failure to lock up medication. One client of the facility who had been on a waiting list for treatment for six months died by suicide.

“As an attorney who has represented families who have lost loved ones because of negligence by healthcare facilities, I see these types of patterns at other facilities across the country,” Simpson said. “I do hope that legislative efforts can lead to improvements. Often, a state is slow to react when a pattern of deficiencies comes to light.

“My job is not to file frivolous lawsuits against these facilities. I want to see healthcare providers do a better job of protecting their clients. Unfortunately, the mental health industry often is resistant to making changes that will improve safety and protect their clients. As a last resort, a lawsuit sometimes is necessary.”

In Montpelier, legislators have recommended that Rutland Mental Health Services be removed from its position as the Rutland region’s main provider of mental health services. According to the AP report, some members of the House Human Service Committee expressed alarm that the state had not acted more quickly to a series of abusive, life-threatening situations, including the suicide of a client.

Simpson said suicide is the third leading cause of death for young adults and the 10th leading cause of death for the general population.

According to the most recent statistics from the American Association of Suicidology, in 2013 41,149 people in the United States died by suicide.  That statistic breaks down to 112.7 per day.

The AAS states that Vermont ranks 10th nationwide in terms of suicides. There were 112 deaths in 2013, or a rate of 17.9 deaths per 100,000 population.