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.

When should suicide prevention begin?

Texas suicide lawyer

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks death by suicide the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Suicide was responsible for roughly 48,000 deaths in 2018. As we discussed in May 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic may cause the suicide rate to raise even higher.

One medical professional who works at a hospital in Walnut Creek, California has seen, firsthand, how bad the numbers of deaths by suicide and suicide attempts are.

“We’ve never seen numbers like this, in such a short period of time,” said Dr. Mike deBoisblanc at John Muir Medical Center. “I mean we’ve seen a year’s worth of suicide attempts in the last four weeks.”

During these times, and for years to come, we need to have a serious discussion about suicide intervention. We also need to find ways to reach out to those who may be emotionally and mentally impacted by the pandemic, as well as those suffering from mental health challenges.

It should start with eliminating the social stigma on mental health

One of the leading reasons those who are at risk of dying by suicide go under the radar is the social stigma surrounding mental health. Social stigma can prevent these individuals from getting the help they need. It also creates a barrier to understanding the struggles associated with mental health.

We need to send a clear message to society that it’s OK to open up about mental and emotional struggles and seek help. Eliminating this social stigma starts in the community. It starts with open talks about mental health, as well as educating yourself and others.

Interventions in healthcare settings

A recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that brief encounters with healthcare professionals can reduce the risk of suicide attempts for up to a year for many individuals.

The study examined more than 4,000 medical patients who were at risk of dying by suicide. After encounters with medical professionals, they were more likely to seek further help and ongoing mental health care.

Among all healthcare settings, emergency rooms had protocols to help patients deal with mental and emotional distress. The study found that urgent care clinics, emergency rooms, jails and shelters were lacking, however. In order to better serve those who suffer from mental health issues, the study suggested the following ways to improve intervention:

  • Hiring qualified mental health professionals who are trained in suicide prevention and assessing suicide risks. They should also understand the irreversible brain damage caused by minutes of strangulation.
  • Providing patient follow-ups by phone or mail. As many as 70 percent of patients who are at risk of suicide may never seek ongoing therapy after being discharged from a healthcare facility. Prompt and periodic follow ups can help prevent future suicide attempts or hospital re-admissions.
  • Providing coping strategies for patients who are most at risk.
  • Encouraging additional ongoing mental health treatment to patients. Healthcare providers should be trained in evidence-based mental health treatment such as cognitive behavior therapy, reduction of lethal means, coping strategies for dealing with certain stressors.

Intervention in schools

Death by suicide is a leading cause of death among adolescents, according to the CDC. Many of these deaths can be prevented when intervention methods are established as early as elementary school.

While intervention methods for elementary school kids may not address suicide directly, they can help children recognize and deal with certain emotions. In addition, being silent about reporting suicidal thinking is wrong. Reporting is right.

study that was published in the journal Child Psychiatry & Human Development examined 21 children, ages 6-9. The mothers were asked to report any suicide attempts or ideations that took place within the last month or at any time within each child’s life. They were also asked to report their children’s emotion regulation skills.

The study was intended to give researchers some insight on how emotion regulation can help prevent suicide risks in children. More research will be needed on a larger group of kids.

Contact an informed suicide lawyer if you have lost a loved one

With proper intervention methods put in place, we hope to see the staggering rate of deaths by suicide drop. It’s up to communities, healthcare facilities and schools to do their part to make that happen.

If you lost a loved one to death by suicide because there was no attempt at intervention in any of these settings, don’t hesitate to reach out to a renowned suicide lawyer at The Law Offices of Skip Simpson. We can investigate the root cause of your loved one’s death, identify negligent parties and help you and your family seek justice.

To schedule your free case evaluation, contact us online or call us at (214) 618-8222. We serve clients across the United States.

Suicide rates may increase amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Texas suicide lawyer

Over the last two decades, the United States has seen an increase in deaths by suicide. Data from the American Association of Suicidology shows that in 2018 (the latest data), approximately 48,344 people in the U.S. died by suicide. This accounted for 132.4 deaths by suicide per day.

With the suicide rate at an all-time high, the number of deaths by suicide could increase even more due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In order to prevent the spread of the virus, states across the U.S. have issued stay-at-home orders and urged people to adhere to social distancing rules.

While these measures may be effective at reducing the spread of COVID-19, they have an impact on mental health. At this time, hospitals and medical professionals should not only provide medical care to those who may be infected with COVID-19, but they should also provide support for those who have been psychologically and emotionally affected by this pandemic.

The role social distancing plays

The impact of the statewide shutdowns and social distancing rules on mental health should be gaining more scrutiny than it currently is.

Social connections are an absolute necessity for mental health. People who experience suicide ideation may become increasingly withdrawn when a suicide risk arises.

Many people rely on the social structure of our society (social gatherings, religious services, and frequent connections with friends and loved ones) to maintain psychological and emotional health.

According to a 2016 study published in the JAMA Network, weekly religious service attendance was linked to a 5-fold reduction in suicide from 1996-2010.

The term “social distancing” gives people the impression that they can’t stay connected. While the media and lawmakers push this term to encourage safety, it’s having an adverse effect on people’s mental health. Until we get through this pandemic, we should focus more on physical distancing while maintaining healthy social connections.

Job loss and economic stress

As a result of the state shutdowns and social distancing rules, many Americans have been temporarily placed out of work. Some have been able to obtain unemployment benefits, but many others are still waiting for financial relief.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a lot of economic uncertainty. Not only are millions of people out of work, we’re still not sure if some jobs will ever return. Furthermore, we’re not sure if we will see another wave of shutdowns in the coming fall and winter.

The economy has a significant impact on mental health. Several studies have found a link between economic recessions and increased rates of death by suicide, according to the World Journal of Psychiatry.

Barriers to mental health treatment

Our medical system has made COVID-19 patients the number one priority. Those whose mental health is impacted by the pandemic may not be able to receive adequate treatment, especially if they don’t have an appointment scheduled. As a result, we’ve become focused on saving some lives while ignoring others.

If our medical system is serious about saving lives, then they need to make mental health a priority during this time. The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t only affecting people who suffer from mental health issues. It’s effecting everyone. That means everyone should have access to mental health support, either at a physical location or remotely.

Tele-mental health services may help many people get through this pandemic; this may be a silver lining to the delivery of mental health services. Those who are at risk of death by suicide need prompt services. When hospitals and other medical facilities fail to provide treatment to someone who is at risk of suicide, they should be held accountable.

Tele-mental health can be quicker and timely help without the need of driving, finding a place to park and other anxiety producing challenges. Health providers may fear litigation for not providing in-person care; they shouldn’t. What they should do is document why they are selecting Tele-Mental health care instead of person to person.

If you or a loved one was denied suicide prevention treatment which led to an attempted suicide, it’s critical that you discuss this matter with an experienced suicide lawyer. At the Law Offices of Skip Simpson, we agree that providing medical treatment to those suffering from COVID-19 is important, but medical professionals also have an obligation to treat those who are at risks of death by suicide.

Our attorneys are dedicated to investigating suicide cases and helping victims and families seek justice. To find out how we can help you, contact our law office online or call us at (214) 618-8222. We offer free and confidential case evaluations.

What will be the COVID-19 shutdown’s impact on the mental health of college students?

Texas suicide lawyer

The stress, anxiety, and depression brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on many people’s mental health. Even people who don’t normally experience mental health issues may have been affected during these difficult times.

People who suffer from mental health issues have been especially affected by this pandemic. Much of the United States hasn’t yet returned to life-as-usual, leaving many resources limited or inaccessible. Furthermore, many people have been forced to refrain from activities they enjoy, while they can only travel for essential purposes.

Mental health of college students disproportionately impacted

According to an article in Psychiatric Times, college students are disproportionately affected by stress, anxiety, depression, suicide ideation and self-harm. Mental health issues among college students are already on the rise, yet are further aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Death by suicide is the second most common cause of death among this population.

Not only do mental health issues affect the immune system and increase the risk of infection, they can also lead to delays in treatment.

In March 2020, many colleges and universities extended spring break to allow faculty more time to devise an appropriate response to the pandemic. Many students were ordered to move out of their dorms and return home. For some, the spring semester was ended early. Others were allowed to continue taking classes remotely. Several important events were also canceled.

This change has placed a great deal of stress on college students for several reasons, including:

  • Limited financial resources
  • Limited housing options for international students
  • Lack of available employment to make ends meet
  • Food insecurity
  • Quarantine and social isolation
  • Cancelled graduations and other critical ceremonies

The social factor

According to another Psychiatric Times article, loneliness and social isolation can have a profound impact on mental health.

Many college students also must avoid attending social outings. Humans are social by nature. Younger people especially desire social connections, which haves been curbed by the social distancing procedures put in place. At best, younger people can only communicate digitally or from a distance of 6-13 feet.

Loneliness and social isolation can affect mental health in the following ways:

  • Depression
  • Increased stress
  • Decreased memory
  • Changes in the brain
  • Increased risk of drug or alcohol abuse

Can telehealth methods help?

These are uncertain times for many college students. Class will not be in session for the remainder of this semester. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that students will return to class in September.

This can leave college students uncertain about their careers, futures, and the possibility of life returning to normal. That’s why it’s critical that colleges and universities offer mental health resources to students, even if done remotely.

John Hopkins University rolled out telehealth technology for students prior to the pandemic. The purpose of this technology was to provide students with remote cognitive behavioral therapy.

Telehealth is one method that can help college students address their mental health and help them cope with the current situation. Several states have amended existing provisions in order to remove barriers to telehealth access, according to mHealth Intelligence.

It is critical that colleges and medical professionals address mental health

Until life returns to normal, mental health concerns will continue to be a growing problem. Not only is it critical that appropriate resources are made available to students, but colleges and universities should also ensure that students are made aware of the resources available to them.

If you lost a loved one to death by suicide, it’s important that you reach out to an experienced suicide lawyer. The Law Offices of Skip Simpson is dedicated to helping families find answers and justice. We investigate deaths by suicide and fights to hold negligent parties accountable when they fail to take appropriate action.

To schedule your free and confidential case evaluation, contact us online or call (214) 618-8222. We serve clients across the United States.