The Law Offices of Skip Simpson
A caring and compassionate lawyer who understands suicide prevention and takes it seriously
A father killed himself today.
So did a mother.
And so did someone’s grandfather.
On the day you read this, more than 98 of our brothers, sisters, parents, cousins, co-workers, friends, and loved ones will have died by suicide. For those with family or friends in a hospital, some of these deaths (5-6 each day) will be loved ones you thought would surely be protected in the “safety” of our hospitals. Some of those deaths occurred because patients were prematurely discharged from hospital … they were still at high risk for suicide.
Alarming statistics about suicide
The National Institute of Mental Health (2011) reports that over 90% of Americans who die by suicide suffer from a treatable mental illness and/or substance disorder. With competent care, protection, and proper treatment, thousands of these victims could, conceivably be alive today.
However, before a mental health provider can treat mental illness, they need to detect, assess, and protect the suicidal patient before suicidal individuals choose to attempt that most desperate and final act. In those situations in which suicidal people have been detected and are referred for psychiatric care, many families and friends believe their loved ones are safe.
Unfortunately, they are not always safe. Many licensed mental health professionals are poorly trained — if trained at all — in the detection, assessment, protection and treatment of suicidal people. Although you might expect your loved ones to receive proper care in a psychiatric facility, they might actually be in harm’s way due to poor training of facility staff.
Recommendations to prevent suicide
Approximately 10 years ago the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001), the Institutes of Medicine (2002) and the President’s New Freedom Commission (2003) all called for improved training and education in the recognition and treatment of patients at-risk for suicidal behaviors.
These recommendations have largely been ignored by mental health providers. Excellent training is available for clinicians and psychiatric hospitals but few are seeking it. Here is the analysis by mental health providers and hospital CEO’s: The odds of having a patient suicide are relatively low. If there is a suicide the clinician or hospital’s well-funded insurance company will cover the expense of the defense litigation. The defense tactic will be to blame the deceased patient and his or her family for the suicide. If a family does recover a settlement or verdict, the insurance company will pay. Why seek training in suicide prevention? It is time consuming and keeps the clinician and hospital staff away from billing patients and their families.
Whom should families and communities trust?
Families and communities believe their suicidal loved ones/citizens are safe once they are seen at a hospital emergency room, psychiatric facility, mental health center, counseling agency, or mental health professionals’ private practice.
The public is misinformed!
Mental health professionals and organizations have been resistant and evasive in enforcing safety rules for suicidal patients. Why? Safety rules are expensive to enforce. It involves training and time. If the mental health industry will not enforce safety rules for the protection of suicidal patients and communities, families have one remedy: lawsuits. Citizens understand they can turn to the judicial system and obtain justice from their fellow citizens. Fellow citizens are also at risk when dangerous care is not stopped. A jury which represents the community will make sure families are protected from negligent psychiatric hospital and clinician acts and omissions.
Skip Simpson knows how to address the problem
Skip Simpson, a trial lawyer, educator, and patient advocate, knows what’s wrong. He knows what’s missing. And he knows how to fix it.
It’s difficult to make sense of a loved one’s suicide. Family and friends of people who take their own lives often ask “why?” Those close to someone who dies by suicide typically feel pain and guilt after the initial shock.
A suicide leaves a dark cloud hanging over a wide array of people. A spouse, a parent, a child, a sibling or a close friend may have taken steps to help their loved one. Family members may have found a hospital or a medical professional who they thought would help. Tragically, people sometimes take their own lives while under the care of professionals who failed to meet the standard of care.
When someone has a condition that creates a risk of dying by suicide, the medical profession has a responsibility to help that person like it should with any another illness. When the proper steps are taken, nearly all suicides are preventable. This is what makes inpatient suicide so troubling. Medical professionals should be trained in reducing the risk of suicide. Facilities should be giving each patient the competent treatment that they deserve and expect. When this is not the case, a patient can be at risk to inflict harm on themselves.
The Law Offices of Skip Simpson believe passionately in suicide prevention. Sometimes a suicide malpractice lawsuit is the only way to demand accountability and make sure fewer people die at their own hands.
How an attorney can help after a traumatic ordeal
The Law Offices of Skip Simpson has earned a national reputation for its successes in handling inpatient suicides at mental health facilities and other mental health malpractice cases. Our cutting-edge approach to successfully defending families of suicide victims has been featured in numerous national publications.
Hospitals or clinics are often staffed with people who don’t have adequate training. Primary care physicians may understand the various disorders linked to suicide, but typically receive little training in dealing with suicidal people. Other workers at healthcare facilities may make very little money and be asked to work long shifts. They may take on responsibilities that are beyond their experience. Many health professionals mean well. But good intentions are not good enough.
Mental health patients and their families deserve proper mental health treatment. When a patient dies due to psychiatric negligence or because a healthcare worker failed to properly check on a suicidal patient’s well-being, the families who lost a loved one need an experienced and knowledgeable attorney who can help hold the responsible parties accountable.
Demanding accountability from healthcare providers
Skip Simpson sees his job as a way to hold mental health care providers accountable for standards of care. Suicide prevention is our Number One goal. Take away the threat of litigation and you take away accountability. There is no such thing as a standard of care that allows a hospital to needlessly endanger its patients, yet hospitals and clinicians frequently take short cuts which put patients at risk for suicide.
The Law Offices of Skip Simpson take pride in our work representing mental health patients and their families. The firm has a highly successful track record. Although based in Frisco, Texas, Attorney Simpson represents clients nationally.
For a free consultation, call 214-618-8222 or fill out our online contact form. Contact a law firm that is passionate about helping the mentally ill. Contact a lawyer committed to working for families. Contact the Law Offices of Skip Simpson.