Statistics of Suicidal Patients in Long-Term Care Settings

Rosenfeld Law
Attorney Jonathan Rosenfeld Injury Attorneys

Patients who have a history of mental illness or depression are at a great risk for being deemed suicidal patients in nursing homes. Research studies indicate that those patients who commit suicide typically have an illness like depression, and they commit suicide within less than six months of living in a nursing home. Suicide attempts usually involve behaviors like drowning, hanging or medication overdoses. Other research studies of long-term care patients have shown that 12 to 50 percent of nursing home patients suffer from depression at any given time. In some states, the suicide rate can be as much as 14 individuals for every 100,000 patients. Nursing home workers need to pay special attention to this group of patients and monitor any suicidal tendencies that they may exhibit.

The Geriatric Medicine and Medical Direction Journal states that suicide in long-term care patients is most often associated with depression. Suicide rates in these patients are also not decreasing every year. The level of depression that a long-term care patient can experience ranges from minor depression to major depression. Depression can also develop in patients who were previously happy individuals due to the conditions of the nursing home or other institutional environment.

Causes of Suicide in Nursing Home Patients

It is important for nursing homes to identify conditions that may cause residents to develop depression. Since depression is the leading cause of suicide in nursing home patients, it is important to take any precautions possible to prevent this illness from developing in nursing home patients. Nursing home patients can develop depression when they lose personal autonomy or do not have social interaction with other people on a regular basis. They may suffer from fatigue or sleep problems that nursing home workers fail to recognize. Some patients even suffer from severe anxiety after entering a long-term care facility due to concerns over their financial ability to pay for the care services. These patients can also be at risk for having suicidal thoughts and need to receive the attention of nursing home workers.

Protocols to Assess At-Risk Seniors in Nursing Homes

Nursing homes have a legal duty to care for those patients who are at risk for committing suicide in the future. They need to take certain protocols to ensure that they take every measure to prevent suicide in these patients. Here are some of the ways in which nursing homes may be liable when a patient does commit suicide:

  • Failure to create a care plan for the at-risk patient
  • Failure to abide by the care plan for the at-risk patient
  • Failure to assess the mental health of the patient upon his or her admission into the facility
  • Failure to monitor patients with a history of depression or who have expressed suicidal ideations
  • Failure to discuss major changes in the patient’s mental health with a family doctor, family members or a legal guardian

When nursing home administrators and workers fail to take these protocols, they may be cited for neglect. Neglect refers to a nursing home’s failure to provide the goods and services required to avoid the physical harm or mental suffering of a patient. Nursing home workers must receive training so that they can notice the signs of depression in patients. A nursing home may even wish to implement a standardized program in which all patients are screened for depression after being admitted to a nursing home for two weeks. In addition, a nursing home can also screen all nursing home residents for depression every six months.

Duty to Monitor Nursing Home Patients with Suicidal Ideations

Those patients who have expressed an intention to take their own lives should immediately be referred to a therapist or other mental health professional. These patients need outside help to cope with their suicidal thoughts and improve their mental health. Even if patients do not express suicidal ideations, there may be other signs that create a reasonable suspicion that the individual will take his or her life. Nursing home workers also have a legal duty to transfer this individual to the nearest emergency room or psychiatric facility.

If a patient has already taken steps toward taking his or her life, then nursing home workers must notify the police. The staff should not be responsible for attempting to disarm the individual. The individual may pose a threat to his or her own safety as well as the safety of others. Police members are trained to deal with people who express suicidal ideations.

Family members who have lost a nursing home patient due to suicide may have a legal claim against nursing home administrators or workers. These individuals may be liable for failing to take steps to protect the at-risk patient, and nursing home lawyers can help file a lawsuit for family members.

For additional information on nursing home safety and suicide prevention:

Jonathan Rosenfeld is a personal injury and medical malpractice attorney in Chicago and regularly handles cases involving nursing home neglect.

Two Florida Girls Arrested in Connection with Bullying Suicide Death of a 12 Year Old

Officials have arrested two girls in connection with a 12 year olds suicide after extensive bullying.  According to Poke County Florida Sheriff Grady Judd, the two girls ages 12 and 14 were arrested after they bullied 12 year old Rebecca Sedwick to a point where she took her own life and continued the bullying after her death.

Rebecca Sedwick a resident of Lakeland, Florida jumped to her death from a cement factory tower on September 9th, after being tormented by as many as 15 girls who harassed her in text messages and online social media message boards, authorities said.
One of the messages that were released by the Polk County sheriff said, “drink bleach and die.”

One her tormenters, age 14 posted a message after Sedwick’s death that resulted in her arrest in connection with the suicide. The post that has Sheriff Judd calling her cold and emotionless was after the suicide she posted “ Yes ik I bullied REBECCA nd she killed her self but IDGAF.”  According to Judd the two girls arrested were the main culprits, but the investigation is ongoing and there could be more arrests.

The two girls were charged with aggravated stalking, which is a third degree felony in Florida, since bulling is not a crime, but Judd said that it does predicate acts for stalking or aggravated stalking.  The sheriff said that since the girls do not have a criminal history, he is not sure if they would spend any time in juvenile detention or how much time they might get, if they were sentenced to detention.

In an effort to stop the bullying, Rebecca changed schools, where it continued to follow her and then home schooled, before her suicide. Rebecca’s mother Tricia Norman said that the constant bullying is what pushed her daughter to kill herself and the school district did not do enough. Her mother said that At one point the school separated the girls, because of fighting. She said in November Rebecca ran away and then was hospitalized in December, three days after cutting herself. Then Rebecca changed schools, but this did not stop the bullying on the internet at Instagram, Voxer, Ask.fm and Kick, authorities said.
According to the mother, the messages would tell her she was ugly, stupid, no one liked her and to go kill herself.

The Polk County sheriff said that on Rebecca’s computer there were searches found including, what is overweight for a 13 year old girl, how many over the counter drugs do you take to die, how to get razor blades out of a razor, and a screen saver of Rebecca with her head resting on a railroad track. Judd said that the 12 year old was at one time Sedwick’s best friend and that a boy Sedwick dated later dated the 14 year old that was arrested. The parents of the 14 year old immediately said that she would not have harassed and bullied anyone and they were 100 percent certain of that.

Florida does have a bullying law, which was amended July 1 to cover cyber bullying, which was named after 15 year old Jeffery Johnson, a teen computer geek who was bullied for two years prior to hanging himself in his closet. The amendment to the law leaves punishment up to the school in bullying cases and cyberbullying, but it also states that law enforcement can seek more traditional charges.

Resources:

Florida CyberBullying: http://www.ncsl.org/research/telecommunications-and-information-technology/cyberstalking-and-cyberharassment-laws.aspx

Ehline Law Wrongful Death Website: http://wrongfuldeathattorney.ehlinelaw.com/step-mother-teen-arrested-florida-bullying-suicide-case-arrested-unrelated-charges/

Suicide from Bullying Results in Wrongful Death Suit

The tragedy Baldwin’s family is experiencing from losing their son Lennon, 15 years old, cannot be minimized. The suicide of this young man has been highly publicized in the midst of several episodes of bullying done by older classmates.

When Bullying Leads to Suicide The Survivor May Be Able to Sue

In this case, the Morris County Surrogate’s Office has issued the boy’s mother, Sharon Varnelas, letters of ‘administration ad prosequendum’. In order for a person’s relative to be able to bring about a wrongful death lawsuit on the behalf of the departed person’s estate, the paperwork is required.

According to Varnelas’ filing, she feels that her son’s death was the result of a default, neglect, or wrongful act, and because of this the mother has brought about a lawsuit against the Morris School District Board of Education.

Although, James M. McCreedy, the attorney for the school district has declined to make a comment on the mother’s filing, he made the comment that everyone feels very bad about the boy’s death.
A statement was issued by McCreedy expressing sympathies to Baldwin’s family for the tragedy that is simply unspeakable. He also stated an on-going internal review of what happened on the school grounds is underway.

There are Some Questions that Arise Over this Situation:

Some bullying did occur on the school grounds. Even though Baldwin made reassurances that the bullies were only playing around with him, was the ball dropped on a student that was obviously being bullied by the staff of the school?

While the bullies admitted guilt to the bullying and were suspended from school for a few days, couldn’t more have been done, especially since it was taking place right under their nose?
While there are continued mandates being heard in this and other school districts, why are situations such as this being allowed by some staff members of the schools? How can the mandates help students like Baldwin if they are going to be ignored?

If you were bullied, and you have solutions, we welcome your comments at http://survival-over-suicide.org/

Lawsuit Settled by Former Teacher in Students Suicide Death

July 16, 2012 – In a real tragedy, a lawsuit has been settled by a former teacher at a Billings High School, over the suicide of a student.

The lawsuit filed by Auliea Hanlon against former teacher Stacey Rambold in February 2011 was settled and a confidential settlement agreement was filed in District Court in Billings Montana.

The wrongful death lawsuit filed by the students mother, was filed after Rambold was charged in 2008 with three counts of rape. Hanlon’s 16 year old daughter committed suicide, prior to Rambold’s case went to trial and the criminal case was settled with a deferred prosecution agreement. The agreement ordered that Rambold complete a sex offender’s treatment.

The students mother had also filed a $750,000 administrative claim with the school district, which was settled in May. The amount of the school district settlement was not disclosed.

Suicide Awareness and Prevention