Premature hospital discharges contribute to suicide deaths

Premature Discharge in hospitals

Hospitals and other medical facilities have an obligation to ensure that patients are kept safe and given the best possible care. Sometimes patients get discharged too early, putting them in danger of not recovering or getting the full help that they need. This is especially true for patients who are at risk of suicide. Premature discharge often occurs due to financial reasons or uninformed medical staff.

First, it’s critical that competent medical staff conduct the proper screening to identify a suicide risk. This should be done first with screening instruments and follow-up questions by a trained clinician. A family member or significant other needs to be a part of the process. A family session should routinely be recommended. There needs to be sufficient evidence that the patient has improved—really improved. Suicide rates, usually within 7-14 days, are higher than rates of suicides that occur on the inpatient unit. Therefore, careful reassessment of suicide risk factors is mandatory prior to discharge…So what has changed so that the patient is ready for discharge?

If a suicide risk has been established, medical staff has a duty to intervene. The patient may not be ready for discharge. If the patient is safe for discharge Mental health specialists should make a patient’s family members and friends aware of the suicide risk and educate them on the warning signs of suicide and means restriction; a careful means restriction like a DEA agent would do determining where contraband may be hidden.

When should at-risk patients be discharged from the hospital?

The patient, a family member involved in the care, or significant others should receive clear and easy to follow instructions on how to access the treating physician or therapist regarding any concern. Family or significant others and the patient should be given information regarding how to access treating clinicians after office hours and any limitations on their availability. Emergency phone numbers that are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, such as psychiatric emergency services, and crisis lines should also be given. Remember the patient is being discharged into a zone of time when suicide risk is at its highest. Don’t take that time period lightly.

Before discharge, hospital staff should make sure the patient understands why staff speaking with collaterals are important. With the patient’s written permission, the patient’s family members or significant others should be alerted to the patient’s history of suicidal thinking and behaviors. No one should be put in the position of supporting a patient without knowing how critical things have been for the patient. This “heads-up” should also be given to subsequent care providers. Make a serious effort to assure that the clinicians with responsibility for treating the patient following discharge receive a copy of the patient’s discharge summary.

Learn more about your legal options. Talk to attorney Skip Simpson today.

Suicide deaths have gradually increased in the United States each year within the last decade. The problem has grown exponentially worse with the COVID-19 pandemic. Awareness of suicide ideation is critical in hospitals and communities. Medical professionals who fail to act when necessary should be held accountable. The Law Offices of Skip Simpson is committed to helping families get the answers and justice they deserve. We are also committed to taking action against negligent medical facilities and preventing further suicide deaths from occurring.

Dealing with the loss of a loved one from suicide can be a confusing time for anyone. Attorney Skip Simpson understands the challenges facing families. A nationally-recognized expert in inpatient suicide law and other suicide-related legal matters, attorney Simpson has worked with many families nationwide after the death of a loved one by suicide. Attorney Simpson can explain the legal options available to your family. Demand legal action today. Contact our law firm and schedule an appointment with an experienced and compassionate attorney.

The 8 most common myths about suicide debunked

Texas suicide lawyer

Suicide is an issue that isn’t discussed nearly as much as it should be in our culture. Myths often prevail over the facts, further leaving countless individuals at risk. The lack of understanding of suicide and the social stigma surrounding it acts as a barrier to progress. For this reason, there are far too many people who don’t get the help and support that they need. Addressing the myths surrounding suicide and presenting the facts is a good start to breaking down these barriers. Below, we discuss and debunk the eight most common myths about suicide.

Myth 1. Only people with mental health conditions are at risk of suicide.

False. We must acknowledge that there are people who suffer from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia who don’t have thoughts of suicide. Moreover, there are people who have thoughts of suicide after experiencing major life crises. These may include people who have lost loved ones, experienced abuse and trauma, lost their homes and jobs, have experienced serious criminal or legal matters, or are suffering from a debilitating or terminal illness.

Myth 2. Asking a depressed person if they’re considering suicide is risky.

False. Not to ask about suicide is risky. If you know someone who seems to be suffering from depression, high anxiety, or has experienced a  perceived major life crisis, it’s wise to discuss the subject of suicide with them. “Have you been thinking about suicide?”

Many people are afraid to talk about suicide because of the stigma surrounding it. By talking about the subject, you can help reduce the stigma and encourage someone who is at risk to open up about it. As a result, they may rethink their options and get the help that they need.

Myth 3. Suicidal individuals will always remain suicidal.

False. Suicide ideation is short term in a lot of people, especially for those who don’t suffer from a mental health condition but have experienced a significant crisis. Even those who suffer from reoccurring suicidal thoughts can recover with the right intervention and treatment. Many people who are suffering see suicide as a way to escape painful circumstances and emotions. Once they recover from these symptoms, they often recover from suicidal thoughts.

Myth 4. Suicide always comes without warning.

Mostly false. There have been many cases when someone has taken their own life and the people closest to them didn’t see it coming. When death by suicide occurs without warning, it’s usually because the person’s friends, family and colleagues didn’t recognize the signs, nor were they ever educated to do so. For the trained, it is rare for a suicide to come “out of the blue.”

Myth 5. Suicide is an act of selfishness.

False. An attempted suicide is caused by mental health conditions and/or circumstances beyond the control of the individual to handle alone.  They need help and hope from everyone including professionals. The best way to help is to listen, be nice, and refer the person to a professional health counselor.

Myth 6. Those who talk about suicide will never actually do it.

False. If someone is talking about suicide, then they are most likely thinking about it. That’s why you should always take any talk of suicide or death seriously, even if it seemingly comes across as a joke.

Myth 7. There is something psychologically wrong with people who die by suicide.

False. The assumption that there is something psychologically wrong with people who are at risk of suicide is what feeds the stigma. This is the reason why many individuals who are suffering never talk to anyone or seek help. We should never alienate someone who suffers from a mental illness or painful circumstance.

Myth 8. People who are suicidal will never seek help.

False. Studies have found that many people who have died by suicide tried to get help within six months before their death. When help is sought it is the aim of health care to make sure the help is competent help.

Contact a Texas suicide lawyer if you lost a loved one to suicide

If you lost a loved one due to suicide, it’s important that you speak to an experienced and compassionate attorney who will demand justice for you and your family. The Law Offices of Skip Simpson will not only help you pursue a claim, but we’ll also support you every step of the way. Our attorneys will also fight to hold negligent healthcare providers accountable and help prevent another tragedy from occurring.

Our law firm would be glad to sit down with you and go over your legal options. Contact us online or call us to find out how we can help you. Our legal consultations are free and confidential.

Hair loss drug can increase the risk of suicide, study finds

Texas suicide lawyer

Propecia (also known as finasteride) is a drug that is used to treat male pattern hair loss, particularly on the vertex and anterior areas of the mid-scalp. It’s also used to treat symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia. According to RxList, it belongs to a class of drugs known as 5-Alpha-Reductase Inhibitors.

Some of the side effects listed by RxList include breast lumps, pain, tenderness and discharge. It also lists sexual complications as common side effects. The site counterintuitively mentions the risk of depression, but researchers in a recent study have dug deeper into the psychological side effects linked to Propecia.

The link between Propecia and suicide

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston examined data from VigiBase (The World Health Organization’s global Case Safety Report database) pertaining to drug safety reports from more than 150 countries. They discovered that suicide ideation among men ages 45 and younger who used Propecia increased significantly since 2012. Approximately 356 reports of suicidality and nearly 3,000 reports of psychological side effects were reported. The same side effects were not reported among older Propecia users who were prescribed the drug to treat prostate issues. The study was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association on November 11, 2020.

Dr. Quoc-Dien Trinh is a senior researcher from the division of urologic surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. According to Trinh, there is currently no clear explanation as to why researchers are seeing an increase in suicide ideation among young male Propecia users. Researchers speculate that the link between the drug and suicide risks may be due to:

  • Biological factors that increase the risk of mental health issues and suicide when coupled with Propecia.
  • Media attention and heightened awareness of the drug’s psychological effects that have led to a rise in reports of adverse events.

Researchers find more potential links

Dr. Michael Irwig from the division of endocrinology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston links the psychological effects of Propecia in young men to sexual side effects. The reason for this may be a loss in sexual function in younger men, which can result in complications with dating and relationships.

“Sexual dysfunction in younger men can result in depression and, in a subset of these men, suicidal ideation,” said Irwig.

Abdulmaged Traish is a professor emeritus of urology at Boston University School of Medicine. He believes that Propecia adversely affects the central nervous system in young men, which leads to depression and the risk of suicide. Traish argues that since hair loss is a non-life-threatening condition, taking Propecia “comes with a high price.” For this reason, patients should be made fully aware of the potential psychological side effects before taking this drug. In addition, Traish believes that a warning should be labeled on the drug by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration highlighting the potential psychological risks. Currently, no such warning label exists on Propecia packages.

“Physicians should have a frank, open discussion with the patient about the potential adverse side effects of the drug,” said Traish. “If the patient still wants to take it, it’s OK, but at least tell him, honestly, this is what we know.”

Why screening is critical

Researchers haven’t yet concluded that there is a direct link between Propecia use in young men and suicide ideation. But studies such as this outline the importance of screening patients for suicide risks in medical facilities before prescribing certain medications. The Law Offices of Skip Simpson have listed dozens of medications that have been linked to suicidal thoughts and behaviors in patients. If a patient exhibits any signs of depression, anxiety, mental or emotional trauma, or suicidal behavior prior to treatment, medical professionals have a duty to act accordingly. If they fail to uphold their duty of care and a patient is harmed as a result, they should be held accountable.

The Law Offices of Skip Simpson have seen the devastating consequences of negligence in medical facilities. We have seen patients severely injured after attempting suicide and families mourn the loss of a loved one. That’s why we’re dedicated to helping victims and their families get the answers and justice they deserve. Our experienced and compassionate legal team serves clients all over the United States. There are no upfront costs for our legal consultations or services. We’ll sit down with you, discuss your matter and go over your legal options. Contact us online or call us to find out what we can do for you.

How do I know if I have a solid mental health malpractice case?

Texas suicide lawyer

Mental health can affect anyone, no matter how successful or happy someone may appear on the surface. There is a social stigma surrounding mental health that acts as a barrier to getting help. Nobody chooses to suffer from depression, PTSD, anxiety, or other forms of mental illness, yet some seem to believe it’s a choice to continue to suffer. Far too often, we have heard the phrase “just snap out of it” or “it’s all in your head.”

That type of stigma is toxic enough in our personal lives, but we shouldn’t expect to see it in medical settings. We should be able to trust doctors, therapists and other medical professionals to address the mental health of patients. Sometimes, they do. But too often, they fail to provide a proper standard of care for patients.

What is mental health malpractice?

Mental health malpractice is a legal term for negligent actions or omissions by medical professionals who are entrusted with the care of a mentally ill patient. In particular, mental health professionals have particular standards of care when treating a patient who is at risk of suicide. This standard of care is breached when medical professionals fail to:

  • Properly screen mental health of patients
  • Remove all physical means of suicide for inpatients (sharp objects and other dangerous items)
  • Provide the proper mental health care or referral to a therapist
  • Provide proper follow-up care and contact with at-risk patients

How can malpractice be established?

First, a lawyer needs to review the facts of the case. The lawyer will listen to information and read records to determine if the elements of malpractice are all there: duty, breach of duty, proximate cause and damages.

There must have been a doctor- or therapist-patient relationship for a duty to occur. Frequently, attorney Skip Simpson handles cases where a mental health facility has not protected a patient from an attempted or completed suicide; usually this is a psychiatric hospital but it can also be other types of facilities like rehabilitation facilities.

How can a suicide lawyer help me?

Medical professionals, mental health specialists, and hospitals owe a duty to patients to be competent and professional. They also have a duty to act appropriately when they are aware that a patient may be at risk of suicide. Any negligent actions or failure to act can result in serious injury or the loss of someone’s life.

Attorney Skip Simpson has seen the impact mental health negligence has had on patients and their loved ones. We have witnessed the amount of pain and suffering families go through all because of someone else’s failure to act accordingly. The medical professionals and mental health specialists who we trust to care for the mental health of patients must be held accountable when they fail to uphold their duty of care.

We are committed to helping mental health malpractice victims and their families get the justice they deserve. If you lost a loved one to suicide, we’ll launch a thorough investigation into the facility and professionals responsible for providing optimal treatment. We’ll also fight to help you recover any financial losses relating to your loved one’s death, as well as non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, grief, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Our law firm is located in Texas and we serve clients across the United States. To schedule your free and confidential case evaluation, contact us online and our legal team will get back to you shortly.

Conversations about safe gun storage can help prevent death by suicide

Suicide prevention

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 40,000 people die each year from death by suicide, which is currently ranked the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. About half of those deaths involve firearms.

Researchers at Forefront Suicide Prevention (FSP) at the University of Washington visited 18 gun shows around Washington state in 2019. They found that engaging people at these shows in community-based and empathetic conversations centered around gun safety resulted in more people keeping their firearms locked up. The study was published on October 20, 2020 in the online journal BMJ Injury Prevention.

Awareness proven effective at encouraging safe storage of firearms

Jennifer Stuber is the lead author in the new study, the FSP co-founder, and an associate professor of social work at the University of Washington. According to Stuber, raising awareness about the risk of suicide when firearms are present can lead to behavior changes that can save lives.

“We need to be educating people who own firearms or are considering purchasing them that suicide is a possible risk to take into consideration and to make plans in advance to mitigate these risks. So many people are in crisis today—from youth, to veterans, to our men in economic distress and in relationship turmoil—we are all vulnerable. We need to educate firearms owners, both experienced and new, at the point of purchase and other places we can find them to raise awareness,” said Stuber.

The study was a test of an outreach strategy created by FSP dubbed SAFER (Safer Homes, Suicide Aware program). The purpose of the outreach strategy is to offer the community steps on how to create safer homes. The program originated in 2015 when Stuber made a phone call to the National Rifle Association (NRA) to gain insight on how its leaders viewed suicides linked to firearms. During the conversation, Stuber learned two things:

  1. Some NRA members have lost friends and family to suicide where firearms were used.
  2. The same people who have lost friends and family are unaware of what can be done to prevent suicide.

In the recent study, 1,175 people were given the SAFER intervention that involved a written survey to assess their knowledge of firearms safety and suicide prevention. Four weeks later, FSP emailed a survey to those who received intervention. Out of the 372 participants who completed the survey, roughly 66% of them said that they now keep their firearms secure in their homes. The second survey showed a 15% increase from the 51% of participants who reported keeping their firearms secure during the first survey.

In addition, volunteers in the SAFER program offered locking devices for medications. During the first survey, 15% of participants said that they safely secured their medications. That grew to roughly 22% during the follow-up survey.

What can the rest of the U.S. learn from the SAFER program?

Ali Rowhani-Rahbar is an associate professor of epidemiology and co-director of the Firearm Injury and Policy Research Program at the University of Washington. He credits this study as the first to “assess receptiveness to suicide prevention messages and self-reported change in firearm storage behavior at gun shows.” He also states that other regions of the U.S. could learn from the SAFER outreach program.

“This study is novel not only due to its outreach to participants in gun shows, but also because of its empathetic approach to engage them in conversations about suicide prevention. It can serve as a model for other regions of the country to use similar approaches and broaden the inclusion of individuals who might be at high risk of suicide in their outreach and prevention programs,” said Rowhani-Rahbar.

Stuber raises another important point: suicide prevention awareness applies to everyone. Even people who have never had suicidal thoughts may experience them at some point in their lives. Or, they may have a friend or family member who is at risk. It’s important that awareness is raised among everyone, so people can have a plan to protect themselves and their loved ones. Awareness is also key in medical settings, so medical professionals and mental health specialists know when to act and how to help protect patients who may be at risk.

The Law Offices of Skip Simpson fully supports the SAFER program and hopes to see similar programs become adopted nationwide. Our law office is dedicated to helping suicide victims and their families seek justice when failure to screen or act within a medical facility leads to tragedy. If you lost a loved one to suicide, feel free to reach out to our experienced and compassionate legal team for help.

We serve clients all over the U.S. and offer free and confidential case evaluations. Contact us online to find out how we can help.

Attorney Skip Simpson featured on America Out Loud

Attorney Skip Simpson appeared on the America Out Loud Podcast hosted by Dr. Joni E. Johnston, a forensic psychologist and private investigator. On the podcast, attorney Simpson discussed the dangers of  watching patients at risk for suicide only every 15 minutes; instead, he says, they must watch such patients one-to-one or within line of sight. The problem with these facilities is that many of them focus on ways to save money for themselves rather than on the needs of patients who are at risk of suicide.

It’s unfortunate that we can’t always rely on medical professionals who we should be able to trust. Some would rather take a cookie-cutter approach to caring for patients. Patients at risk of suicide are not getting the care that would save their lives. Attorney Simpson discusses ways for clinicians to avoid lawsuits, make loved ones part of the treatment team, and make it more likely that treatment will be successful.

You can listen to the podcast below or by clicking here. If you lost a loved one to suicide, contact our law firm to learn about your legal options.

El Paso suicide survivor raises awareness during Suicide Prevention Month

Texas suicide lawyer

September is Suicide Prevention Month. It’s not only a great time to raise awareness about the prevalence of suicide. It’s also a great time to address the barriers people with mental health issues face when seeking the help they need.

In El Paso, Texas, Emergence Health Network is offering mental health counseling for local individuals who need it, including a local crisis hotline (which is available 24/7).

In addition, local therapists and suicide survivors are raising community awareness on how and where to find lifesaving resources. This is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has taken a toll on many peoples’ mental well-being.

Suicide survivor shares her story

One survivor, Elizabeth Zarate, recent spoke with KTSM 9 and shared her experience.

“Personally, in my experience, it feels like it consumes you,” Zarate told KTSM. “You’re so overwhelmed, there’s no way out: ‘nobody can help me.’ You don’t want to put that stigma, ‘I don’t want to put my problems on anybody else; it’s easier if I’m not here,’ and that’s not the case.”

Zarate was once afraid to seek help and raise awareness on the seriousness and prevalence of suicide due to stigma that is often attached to mental health. She now works at a local mental health authority and urges others to watch out for early signs that a loved one may be at risk of suicide. This may include sudden behavioral changes or loss of interest in doing certain things.

“Reach out and talk to them and say, ‘Hey I noticed these things, how are you doing?’” said Zarate. “Just listening to them, being there, supporting them, showing them that you care and knowing most definitely where to find your resources. Know where to go for help, because it exists and it works.”

Zarate also encourages those who have lost a loved one to suicide not to blame themselves.

How simply raising awareness can make a significant change

Until we can squash the stigma surrounding mental health and make critical, lifesaving resources widely available to the public, those who are at risk of suicide may continue to go unheard.

More lives can be saved when communities come together to address the issue of suicide and when those who know what the struggle is like continue to offer help to those who need it.

The Law Offices of Skip Simpson applauds the courage of Zarate and other individuals who have come forward with their experiences and have dedicated themselves to helping others. While we have a long way to go, community involvement is a critical step in the right direction.

If you have lost a loved one to suicide, feel free to reach out to attorney Skip Simpson to learn about the legal options available to you. Our law firm fights to hold negligent parties (particularly medical establishments) accountable for failure to provide proper screening or to act when someone shows the signs he or she is at risk of suicide.

To learn more about how we can help, contact us online and schedule your free and confidential case evaluation.

The importance of genetic screening in suicide prevention

Texas suicide lawyer

While the patterns aren’t exactly clear, some evidence shows that mental illness can be genetic. According to Dr. Douglas Gray, psychiatrist and researcher at the University of Utah School of Medicine, mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia can run in families. Gray studies death by suicide in order to gain better insight on risk factors and prevention methods.

In 2018, Gray published a study in the journal of Molecular Psychiatry. His research analyzed four specific gene variants that appear to increase the risk of suicide. The study found that four percent of genes in the genome — APH1B, AGBL2, SP110, and SUCLA2 — are responsible for 45-50 percent of the risk.

“We need to tell people who’ve had a suicide that their family’s at risk,” said Gray.

How genes play a role in suicide risks

Gray concluded that awareness and prevention can be increased by reviewing family histories and providing proper screenings. He also cited a 1980 study conducted at the University of Utah by Paul H. Wender, which compared adopted children and their adoptive parents to biological parents and their children.

“They looked at a group of children who were adopted at birth and then grew up and completed suicide,” Gray said. “It turned out that almost all of the risk of suicide was from the biological relatives and not the relatives that raised the child. So, your suicide risk doesn’t come from the parents that adopt you, it comes from the parents you never met.”

Gray and a team of geneticists decided to put Wender’s finding to the test by using statistical resources from the Utah Population Database. They examined 43 extended families that had shown high risk of suicide through several generations. When environmental factors were taken into account, gene variants that were found to be prevalent in these families were further examined for their frequencies through a sample of 1,300 suicides that occurred throughout Utah.

“We’re able to gather DNA of suicide completers for the past 20 years and actually look for genes that might increase the risk for suicide,” said Gray.

The results that Gray uncovered are very similar to the story of Jenny Gibson, who is a mother of two in Arizona. Her sister died by suicide in early 2008. Her father also died by suicide four years later. What this suggests is that mental and emotional trauma linked to the loss of a loved one can significantly increase the risk of suicide. Yet, Gibson, her father, and sister were never genetically screened.

“My dad was very resilient. He didn’t have a mental illness, he was handling the loss of his daughter like any other parent would – it comes with depression and heartbreak – and I didn’t see anything different,” said Gibson.

Are all with the same genetics at risk?

A 2013 study — that was conducted by Dr. Jordan Smoller of Massachusetts General Hospital — examined the link between genetics and mental illness. While research may have found a genetic link, the researchers in the study cautioned against placing too much emphasis on genes as a mental health predictor.

“Although statistically significant, each of these genetic associations individually can account for only a small amount of risk for mental illness,” said Smoller.

Gray compared this research to a plane crash involving more than one factor.

“When you look at when, sadly, an airplane crashes, there’s usually five or six different things that went wrong all in combination,” he said. “We’ll have a 17-year-old boy that dies of suicide and yeah, there was a romantic breakup, but if a romantic breakup was the cause of suicide, then none of us would be alive, right?”

How can this research be applied to suicide prevention?

Natalia Chimbo-Andrade is the director of community education and outreach for the behavioral health agency Community Bridges Inc. She is also a suicide attempt survivor and works with young individuals and families during crisis situations. She sees Gray’s research as an opportunity to better understand the risks and warning signs of suicide.

“It’s important that as we are having these open and honest conversations with members of our family about genetics and health risks, we also talk about the other contributing factors and, most importantly, we talk about the warning signs – the warning signs that we might see in other people, but also the warning signs that we see within ourselves,” said Chimbo-Andrade.

Lastly, Gray expresses the importance of screening not only for mental illness, but other health conditions that are known to be genetic.

“Know your family history. If you have a family history of colon cancer, please get your colonoscopy and get it regularly. If you have a strong family history of significant mood disorders and you’re starting to get depressed, the earlier you get help, the better,” said Gray.

Learn more about your legal options

Dealing with the loss of a loved one from suicide can be confusing for anyone. Attorney Skip Simpson understands the challenges facing families. A nationally-recognized expert in inpatient suicide law and other suicide-related legal matters, attorney Simpson has worked with many families nationwide after the death of a loved one by suicide. Attorney Simpson can explain the legal options available to your family. Learn more about how attorney Simpson may be able to assist your family.

Contact our law firm and schedule an appointment with a compassionate attorney.

Suicide Prevention Month: What is the impact public messages have on those at risk of suicide?

Texas suicide lawyer

Suicide Prevention Week will be observed September 9-12, 2020. In addition, September is Suicide Prevention Month. During this time, the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance) will take the opportunity to educate the public on the importance of being there for those who need the support, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Action Alliance will be sending email blasts to its partners in the coming months in order to better equip them with the tools and resources to help spread this message. Moreover, the Action Alliance will raise awareness about the impact of public messages and how they can affect those who are at risk of suicide negatively or positively.

Effective, safe, strategic messaging

Research has found that certain public messages can exacerbate suicide risks among vulnerable people. Positive messages, on the other hand, can encourage at-risk individuals to seek the help they need and never give up.

The Action Alliance discussed its important messaging framework during a 2018 seminar dubbed Developing and Delivering Effective Suicide Prevention Messaging: We All Play A Role. These include:

  • Strategy: Upfront thinking and planning to develop successful and positive messages. The audience and goal of the message should be considered. The message should not only focus on awareness, but also action.
  • Safety: Potentially harmful messages should be avoided. Planners should screen content before sharing it, be consistent, be mindful about sensitive topics, avoid linking suicide risks to certain causes, focus on solutions rather than problems, use prevention-focused data, and avoid stigmatizing language.
  • Positive narrative: The positive aspects of suicide prevention should be highlighted. This can be done by discussing actions people can take to prevent suicide, provide examples on how resilience and prevention works, show that suicide prevention services are available and effective, and avoid negative stereotypes.
  • Guidelines: Planners should follow best practices guidelines after developing an effective, safe and strategic message. There is a wide variety of guidelines that can be found here.

About our law firm

The Law Offices of Skip Simpson is dedicated to helping families of those who died by suicide are who are at risk. We fight to hold negligent parties accountable, especially in inpatient and outpatient settings. Our law firm is based in Texas, but we serve families and communities across the United States. If you lost a loved one to death by suicide because of someone’s negligence or failure to provide the right care or support, contact our firm to discuss your legal options.

American Military Personnel At Risk For Suicide

Texas suicide lawyer

Experienced suicide attorney explains the risks, latest findings

A recent death by suicide of a decorated member of the Green Berets illustrates the risk of suicide many members of the United States military face every single day. That’s why it’s important for military family members and members of the public at large to be aware of the risks military personnel face, according to attorney Skip Simpson, who frequently represents families dealing with the loss of a loved one as a result of suicide.

Death by suicide of Army’s ‘Captain America’

U.S. Army Master Sgt. Andrew ‘Andy’ Christian Marckesano served six full tours with the 82nd Airborne Division and the Ranger regiment in Afghanistan, as well as six additional overseas combat tours. Nicknamed ‘Captain America,’ Marckesano became a Green Beret and received a Silver Star for his work.

Earlier this year, Marckesano, his wife and three children moved to Washington, D.C., where he recently began working at the Pentagon while still on active duty. Then on July 6, after having dinner with his former battalion leader, Marckesano returned home and died by suicide in front of his wife, according to Fox 5 DC News.

Marckesano is not the first member of his battalion that served in Afghanistan to die by suicide. Including Marckesano, 30 members of his battalion have taken their life since serving in Afghanistan’s Arghandab Valley in 2009, Fox 5 News reported.

Even so, Marckesano’s suicide sent shockwaves through his battalion. The battalion’s former Command Sgt. Major Bert Puckett sent a message soon after Marckesano’s death to fellow battalion members, urging them to contact him anytime to discuss any problems they may be experiencing. “Text me, I told you before my door is open… my phone is at hand…,” Fox 5 News reported.

Suicide statistics among military troops, family members

Death by suicide among combat veterans is nothing new. Each day, an estimated 20 combat veterans take their lives, according to Fox 5 News. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) also released a detailed study last year examining suicide rates among active duty military personnel and family members.

The DOD study focused on statistics for 2018. That year, the study found that:

  • 541 service members (active and reserve) died by suicide
  • Among active military members, the suicide rate was 24.8 per 100,000.
  • Among reserve military members, the suicide rate was 22.9 per 100,000.
  • Among the National Guard, the suicide rate was 30.6 per 100,000.

In contrast, the age-adjusted suicide rate for the entire United States was 14.2 per 100,000, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. That same year, 48,344 nationwide died by suicide in the United States, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death in 2018.

Learn more about your legal options. Talk to attorney Skip Simpson today.

Dealing with the loss of a loved one involving suicide can be an overwhelming experience for anyone. Attorney Skip Simpson understands the challenges many families face. A nationally-recognized expert in inpatient suicide law and other suicide-related legal matters, attorney Simpson has helped many families nationwide understand their rights and legal options following the death of a loved one by suicide. Learn more about how attorney Simpson may be able to help you. Contact us and schedule an appointment with a caring and compassionate attorney.