Posts Tagged ‘Texas suicide lawyer’

Military Suicides Higher Than Combat Deaths

New data released from the Pentagon indicates that in 2012,  there have been more active-duty soldier deaths attributable to suicide than combat.

Texas suicide lawyer Skip Simpson praises Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for putting his finger on one of the main problems of military suicides.

Last month, Panetta said military leaders need to be held accountable for prevention. He said suicide has become an epidemic in the military, with an average of one soldier a day committing suicide – about 33 each month. To raise awareness, he ordered the military to “stand down” for a single day.

These are men and women who put their lives on the line every day for us. We – and specifically the military leadership – have a duty to protect them from harming themselves, as they cope with the tribulations of returning home after living through the horror of war.

Service data indicates that Army soldiers in particular are struggling. The suicide rate among Army soldiers has tripled since 2004, with about 10 for every 100,000 a month in that year to nearly 30 for every 100,000 this year. In July, a record 38 Army soldiers committed suicide.

These figures don’t include the number of retired veterans, who reportedly commit suicide on an average of 18 per day.

Panetta was quoted by various media as saying that leaders must be sensitive to the issue and aware of the warning signs – and they have to be aggressive in addressing it. Seeking help, he said, must be viewed as a sign of courage, not weakness.

Unfortunately, this has not always been the case. Newsweek recently profiled a number of soldiers who had either committed or attempted suicide. One of the latter says that as he sat in the hospital after purposely crashing his motorcycle on the freeway, his father begged him to get help. When he went to his superior, he was told he could be sent to the on-base mental health unit, but that his career might be negatively affected. He was waiting on a promotion to commander, and told that seeking help could put his chances of that position at risk. He declined to get help.

Likely the superior who advised his subordinate not to go to the mental health unit was genuinely trying to help his subordinate by relying on his own experiences with the military. Until recently, going to a mental health clinic spelled the end to a military career. Often, security clearances were pulled, which was the kiss of death.

Until Panetta’s directives to the military leadership become operational and are religiously followed, military suicides will continue at the same alarming rates, Skip Simpson says. VA hospitals and clinics have received Panetta’s message loud and clear and are clearly superior in suicide prevention compared to civilian hospitals and clinics.

As a Texas suicide lawyer, Skip Simpson knows this is not how it should be, and it’s a positive step that the military is beginning to recognize this. But there is still a long way to go.

Part of prevention is recognizing the warning signs. Some of those include:

Sudden behavior or mood changes;

Writing or talking about death or ways to die;

Displaying risky or reckless behaviors;

Expressing hopelessness about the future;

Giving away valuables;

Making arrangements for pets or children;

Spending money erratically;

Withdrawing from others;

Preparing a will;

Sleeping or eating disturbances;

Increased drug or alcohol use;

Displaying rage, anger or a desire for revenge.

If you lost a loved one to suicide, contact the Dallas Law Offices of Skip Simpson, dedicated to holding mental health counselors accountable. Call 214-618-8222.

Mental Health Standard of Care Crucial After Suicide Attempt and Discharge from Emergency Room or Inpatient Psychiatric Facility

Psychiatric patients who have attempted suicide and are mostly likely to try again to end their lives are some of the least likely to follow up with mental health treatment after being released from a hospital, according to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.

The resource center and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recommend that a discharged psychiatry patient should be sent home with “linkage to certain and effective treatment,” according to the 2011 publication, “Suicide Attempts and Suicide Deaths Subsequent to Discharge from an Emergency Department or an Inpatient Psychiatry Unit: Continuity of Care for Suicide Prevention and Research.”

Unfortunately, even discharged patients with  suicide risk may not receive the follow-up psychological treatment they need.

Nationally recognized  Texas suicide lawyer Skip Simpson considers  standard of care (patient safety rules) for suicide patients to be of utmost priority at all times, including the days and weeks after an Emergency Department or inpatient  mental health facility discharges a patient.

Unfortunately, however, frequently suicidal patients do not always get the mental health care they need. “Many patients never make it to their first follow-up appointment,” says the report, “and many that do, do not remain in treatment long enough for continuing care to be successful. For both EDs (emergency departments) and inpatient discharges, the risk for suicide attempts and death among all age groups is highest immediately after discharge and over the next 12 months to four years. “

Simpson concurs. “The standard of care requires that all suicide risk assessments be documented in the record,” he explains. “If a clinician fails to perform, or improperly performs, an assessment, or if the clinician unreasonably underestimates the patient’s risk, she may well be liable if the patient dies by suicide, or makes a suicide attempt. Failure to take certain actions is unacceptable.”

With over 36,000 people taking their own lives every year in this country, it is vital for anyone who was recently released from a psychiatric unit or ED to follow up with proper mental health treatment. Those first few hours, days, and weeks after discharge are when a suicidal person is most vulnerable and may try to take his or her own life. Skip Simpson stresses this research perfectly matches what he sees in his practice over and over again.  He reviews about 50-60 suicide cases every year and hears suicide survivors say “if I had only known.”  This blog is an attempt to give loved ones the knowledge they need before a tragic attempt occurs.  It is also at attempt to give clinicians an opportunity to avoid the pain of having their patient seriously harm or kill themselves.

If you are a clinician who is reading this blog please get the training you need. Demand the training from your place of employment. If your employer will not provide the training because of budget concerns take the time to train yourself.  There is plenty of information on the internet to enable you to become more competent in suicide prevention.  Families are handing their loved ones over to you so you can keep them safe until they are properly treated.

If your loved one committed suicide or attempted suicide, whether as an inpatient or after coming home from the hospital or emergency room, you need an experienced suicide attorney. Call  Skip Simpson Attorneys and Counselors at 214-618-8222 or complete our online contact form. We understand what you are going through and can fight hard to pursue the compensation you and your family deserve.  Moreover, sadly it seems the only way clinicians, hospitals and emergency rooms will change their dangerous care is by paying the consequences for their poor care.

A final note.  Mr. Simpson rejects many more cases than he accepts. Not all attempted suicides are the result of incompetent care.  Mr. Simpson and the experts he retains distinguishes the cases where law suits are needed from those where no law suit should be filed.

The Law Offices of Skip Simpson

2591 Dallas Parkway, Suite 300

Frisco, Texas 75034

Teen Suicide Warnings and Why Teen Bullying, Drugs, Alcohol and Depression Matter

Teenagers face immense pressures, often from all sides—parents, teachers, siblings, employers and, very often, classmates. They are at one of the most difficult times of life, struggling to figure out who they are and what they want to do when they grow up, but also having to navigate through daily outside pressures, expectations, challenges and disappointments. The harsh truth is that teen suicide is more common than most of us think.

In 2009, an average of one young person every two hours killed him or herself. In fact, youth suicide is such a major public health problem in the United States, more teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia and influenza, and chronic lung disease combined.

More than 4,371 children and young adults take their own lives every year, making suicide the third overall cause of death for people 10 to 24 years of age. Children and young adults account for 14.4 percent of all suicides completed, and it begs the question: Why are there so many hopeless teenagers, who can see no other way to handle life’s challenges? Does it mean there are more cases of suicidal teen depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, drug dependency, abuse disorders and schizophrenia? Or is it a reflection of our society as a whole and that too much exposure to the media or the social pressures of technology are becoming too much of a burden on kids?

According to the American Association of Suicidology, one in 11 high school students made a suicide attempt in the past 12 months. School psychologists have particular insight into the problem, with 86% of those surveyed reporting that they’d counseled a student who had threatened or attempted suicide and 62% attesting that they’ve had a student make a nonfatal suicide attempt at school.

Parents, caregivers, school authorities, pediatricians and child psychologists all need to pay attention to teen suicide warning signs, and as Texas suicide lawyer Skip Simpson knows well, they can be subtle. Most suicidal youths do not tell adults about their distress, and only rarely are the signs recognized by adults, including school personnel or parents, who presumably have the most opportunity to respond with help

Most teens contemplating suicide do show some sort of indication that they are in emotional trouble, but loved ones and school authorities must be very attuned and involved in order to read those signs. A child may become unusually withdrawn, start acting out with drug or alcohol abuse, become sexually promiscuous or have episodes of sheer rage and all could be signs of an underlying teenage psychological problem. Though a diagnosable mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder is present in 80% to 90% of youth who die by suicide, less than one-third of teen suicide decedents or attemptors were receiving treatment at the time of their death/attempt.

Part of the issue is that teenagers live entirely in the moment. It is nearly impossible for them to be able to see that “this too shall pass” and to gain some perspective on what they may perceive as a crisis either academically or in their social group.

A factor in helping reduce adolescent suicides is for parents to stay as involved, compassionate and loving as possible, so that their child knows he or she is not alone and has support every step of the way through those difficult teen years. And if a mom, dad or other loved one has even an inkling that a teen is thinking of suicide, they must act, immediately, by getting that child to a mental health clinician for assessment. If a teenager says anything along the lines of “I want to kill myself,” don’t be fooled by comments that may follow, such as “I was only kidding”. Take anything and everything to do with possible suicide seriously—you could be the one who saves a teen’s life.

The experts at the Law Offices of Skip Simpson Attorneys and Counselors have the wisdom and compassion their clients need in times of distress and crisis. If you or a loved one has suffered from the pain of loss due to a suicide, inpatient suicide or mental health malpractice, you need the guidance and experience of Skip Simpson Attorneys and Counselors. Call us at 214-618-8222 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

The Law Offices of Skip Simpson
2591 Dallas Parkway, Suite 300
Frisco, Texas 75034